Ignaz Semmelweis, a Hungarian medical doctor, lived during that time of the 19th century when the concept of germs had not been established yet.
In 1946, when he was appointed at a hospital in Vienna, many of the admitted mothers were dying of a mysterious illness. It was called puerperal fever or childbed fever and it was believed the cause of these deaths was ‘miasma’ or poisonous air.
On crunching data collected over a few months, Semmelweis figured that the mortality rate in the doctor’s ward was 10 percent and in the midwives’ clinic was 4 percent. This discrepancy was hard to ignore and led him to believe that the poisonous gas theory was bogus. He started looking out for differences between the doctors’ and the midwives’.
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