>>>... Ignaz Semmelweis, who demonstrated the improved outcomes when physicians washed their hands and who was pooh-poohed (driven to insanity) by the
rest of the medical profession...
Although I admit that being "driven to insanity...by the rest of the medical profession" has strong face validity, Semmelweis' death was caused by members of the "allied health care professions", albeit under medical direction based on the consensus of those times as to how best to deal with such situations.
Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis (b 1818/7/1) was beaten to death at age 47 by custodians of the Vienna insane asylum to which he had been admitted with symptoms stongly suggestive in retrospect of a combative form of dementia (possibly Alzheimer syndrome, with no evidence of CNS malignancy on his autopsy) and psychosis. Discredited and mocked by his peers and "superiors", by summer 1865 Semmelweis was seen in Budapest's streets thrusting circulars into the hands of startled pedestrians, which stated "The peril of childbed fever menaces your life! Beware of doctors for they will kill you.... Unless everything that touches you is washed with soap and water and then chlorine solution, you will die and your child with you!" He was apprehended eventually for having been belligerent then committed to institutional "care" including forcible restraint, isolation, hydro'thereapy' and beatings. Father of three young children, he attempted to escape, but was forcibly subdued by several guards, bound and secured in a straightjacket, and confined in a darkened cell whereafter the guards beat him severely. Bulletin of the History of Medicine (1995; 69:255-70 Carter KS, Abbott S and Siebach JL "Five Documents Relating to the Final Illness and Death of Ignaz Semmelweis) states "He was not in the asylum for long. Thirteen days after admission he was dead." His autopsy report states "It is obvious that these horrible injuries were... the consequences of brutal beating, tying down, trampling underfoot."
Nothing like the power of consensus to leave impressions on one's mind...
Philip F. Hall, MD BScMed FRCSC
Professor, Faculty of Medicine, University of Manitoba
Director, Fetal Assessment, Manitoba Obstetric Outreach and Maternal-Fetal Medicine Programs
President of Medical Staff
St.Boniface General Hospital, 409 Tache Avenue D2044
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada R2H 2A6
ph 204-237-2547 FAX 204-233-1751
(Past Chair, Obs & Gyn Specialty Committee,
Royal College of Physicians & Surgeons of Canada)
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