Skip Navigation U.S. Department of Health and Human Services www.hhs.gov
Agency for Healthcare Research Quality www.ahrq.gov
Archive print banner

Slide Presentation of the 2007 Annual Meeting of AHRQ

This information is for reference purposes only. It was current when produced and may now be outdated. Archive material is no longer maintained, and some links may not work. Persons with disabilities having difficulty accessing this information should contact us at: https://info.ahrq.gov. Let us know the nature of the problem, the Web address of what you want, and your contact information.

Please go to www.ahrq.gov for current information.


History Revisited

Text Description is below the image.
  • Ignaze Philipp Semmelweis (July 1, 1818—August 13, 1865)
  • Hungarian physician the "savior of mothers" who discovered, in 1847, hand washing drastically reduced incidence of puerperal fever in obstetrical clinics.

Notes:

"Dr. Semmelweis worked in a hospital in Vienna whose maternity patients were dying at such an alarming rate that they begged to be sent home," said Julie Gerberding, M.D., director of CDC's Hospital Infections Program. "Most of those dying had been treated by student physicians who worked on cadavers during an anatomy class before beginning their rounds in the maternity ward."
Because the students didn't wash their hands between touching the dead and the living--handwashing was an unrecognized hygienic practice at the time--pathogenic bacteria from the cadavers regularly were transmitted to the mothers via the students' hands.
"The result was a death rate five times higher for mothers who delivered in the hospital than for mothers who delivered at home" said Dr. Gerberding.
In an experiment considered quaint at best by his colleagues, Dr. Semmelweis insisted that his students wash their hands before treating the mothers--and deaths on the maternity ward fell fivefold.
http://www.cdc.gov/od/oc/media/pressrel/r2k0306c.htm

Previous Slide Previous Slide         Contents         Next Slide Next Slide


 

The information on this page is archived and provided for reference purposes only.

 

AHRQ Advancing Excellence in Health Care