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The Doctors' Plague: Germs, Childbed Fever, and the Strange Story of Ignac Semmelweis (Great Discoveries)by Sherwin B Nuland
Synopses & Reviews
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.
Book News Annotation:
Puerperal (or "childbed") fever killed far more individuals in hospitals than out in the early 1800s, largely because doctors were spreading it by not washing their hands after handling cadavers. Medical historian Nuland (Yale U.) narrates the story of Ign<'a>c Semmelweis, who correctly identified the problem, only to wind up with his career and his health ruined.
Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Includes bibliographical references (p. 187-191).
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