The Saviour of Mothers was Declared Insane by His Medical Colleagues

A Hungarian medical doctor and gynecologist was discredited and slandered by his colleagues for suggesting that they wash their hands after leaving the morgue on their way to the maternity unit to deliver babies. They diagnosed him as insane and had him committed to an asylum where he died after 14 days.

This is the story of Dr Ignaz Semmelweis (1818-1865), who despite the cruel and unjust fate that became him, is globally accepted today as the greatest of health pioneers.

Semmelweis made discoveries that have saved countless millions of lives. But at the time of his discoveries he was rejected by medical doctors; they declared him insane, had him committed to an asylum and placed in a straightjacket. Within 2 weeks he was killed as a result of physical abuse. After his death all his theories were proven to be true and Semmelweis was honored with having a university named after him. Semmelweis University in Budapest is renowned as one of the world’s best medical universities and requires students to have high grades for admittance.

Semmelweis was the first doctor to discover the importance of medical professionals washing their hands. He proved statistically that the incidence of childbed fever could be drastically reduced by use of hand washing for doctors and nurses in maternity clinics. To leave the morgue after handling dead bodies and going to the birthing room to deliver a baby without washing their hands was common practice in those days.

In the early mid-nineteenth century in Europe and America, thousands of young mothers died from childbed fever, also known as puerperal fever. The new mothers were generally affected within the first three days after childbirth.

In the spring of 1850, Semmelweis took the stage at the prestigious Vienna Medical Society and spoke of the virtues of hand washing to a crowd of doctors. His theory enraged them, it flew in the face of accepted medical practice of the time and was totally rejected by the whole medical community. They faulted both his science and logic, cast him out of the establishment, a result of which that his mental health suffered. In 1865  Semmelweis  supposedly experienced a ‘nervous breakdown’. His critics and colleagues hastily labelled him with a host of different diagnosis from Alzheimers, dementia and insanity, and had him committed to an asylum. There he received beatings from the guards and died on 13thAugust 1865. He had blood poisoning (sepsis) and a gangrenous wound on his right hand caused by the beating.

Even though Semmelweis published studies proving the results where hand washing reducedmortality to below 1%, his observations conflicted with the established scientific and medical opinions of the time. Some doctors were offended at the suggestion that they should wash their hands and bullied him for it. 

Semmelweis’s practice earned widespread global acceptance in the years after his death when Louis Pasteur further developed the germ theory of disease, offering a theoretical explanation for Semmelweis’s findings. Deaths were drastically reduced and Semmelweis became known as the ‘saviour of the mothers’. 

It’s beyond belief to think that anything slightly resembling the fate of one of the world’s most brilliant medical minds could happen again in our day and age. Yet it is, and not just to one but to many brilliant researchers and doctors. The cancel culture and censure is off the scale. Any medical professional who does not follow the jab narrative is indeed a candidate for professional suicide. Fortunately the conscientious, ethical doctors who are thrown under the bus for speaking out, are finding and supporting each other.