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The Doctors' Plague: Germs, Childbed Fever, and the Strange Story of Ignac… (edition 2004)
The Doctors' Plague: Germs, Childbed Fever, and the Strange Story of Ignac Semmelweis by Sherwin B. Nuland
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0393052990, Hardcover)A great medical detective story, by the author of the best-selling How We Die. SURGEON, SCHOLAR, BEST-SELLING AUTHOR, Sherwin B. Nuland is one of our finest chroniclers of the history of medicine. Obsessed for twenty-five years with Ignac Semmelweis's strange story. Nuland tells it with the urgency and insight gained from his own studies and clinical experience. Ignac Semmelweis is remembered for the now-commonplace notion that doctors must wash their hands before examining patients. In mid-nineteenth-century Vienna, however, this was a subversive idea. With deaths from childbed fever exploding, Semmelweis discovered that doctors themselves were spreading the disease. While his simple reforms worked immediately, they also threatened the medical establishment and so undid the passionate but selfdestructive Semmelweis that he failed to overturn the status quo, leaving it to later medical giants--Pasteur, Lister, and Koch--to establish conclusively the germ theory of disease. The Doctors' Plague is a riveting, revealing narrative of one of the key turning points in medical history.
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:57 -0400)
Semmelweis' fame rests on having shown in the 1840s that deaths from puerperal fever (an infection following childbirth) could be reduced by making doctors and medical students wash their hands in a disinfectant solution before entering the maternity ward. The truth is much more complex. He was his own worst enemy. His dogmatism, arrogance, hostility, and rudeness to colleagues who dared to question his views, combined with his failure to publish his findings for 14 years, damaged his reputation.
(summary from another edition)
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