Journal Articles

Ignaz Semmelweis and his relevance to modern-day sepsis

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Ignaz Semmelweis and his relevance to modern-day sepsis

Edward White
21 March 2016

The predominating theme of British wound care in the immediate past seems to have been that of pressure ulcers (PUs), and with the advent of the ‘preventable’ pressure ulcer debate, iatrogenesis (any injury or illness that occurs because of medical care, but not necessarily as a result from medical errors) now carries with it the sting of potential litigation. What is more, PUs are not the only issue. The likes of norovirus and septicaemia still sweep through hospital wards, and do so with potentially devastating consequences. One hundred and sixty-nine years ago, essentially the same techniques used today were introduced by one Ignaz Semmelweis to prevent the spread of puerperal sepsis; simple hygiene and anti/aseptic techniques in the form of handwashing with chlorinated lime (MacDermot, 1912).

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