"No Good Deed Goes Unpunished": Ignaz Semmelweis and the Story of Puerperal Fever

Joshua Manor*, Nava Blum, Yoav Lurie

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ignác Fülöp Semmelweis was born almost 200 years ago, in 1818, to a well-to-do middle class Hungarian family. He started law school in 1837, switched to medicine a year later, and graduated in 1844.Semmelweis failed to obtain a position in internal medicine, became a resident in obstetrics, and later, still in obstetrics, became an assistant to Professor Johann Klein, head of the maternity service at the AKH-Vienna General Hospital. Professor Klein resented his predecessor's approach of minimal pelvic examinations and the use of mannequins, and ushered in the area of obstetric examinations using cadavers for teaching purposes. Each morning, medical students started off with postmortem examinations before joining the morning rounds. However, only the all-male medical students from the first clinic were part of this routine; it did not include the all-female midwife students from the second clinic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)881-887
Number of pages7
JournalInfection Control and Hospital Epidemiology
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2016
Externally publishedYes


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