Anthony ValerioJun 1, 2020
The Women's Doctor
Though his advice has saved the lives of millions of people, the name Ignaz Semmelweis is not one commonly known today. In his book Anthony Valerio’s Semmelweis: The Women's Doctor (Zantedeschi Books, 2019). Valerio details the many struggles Semmelweis faced in winning acceptance for his advice on antiseptic procedures. The son of a Buda spice merchant, Semmelweis started his studies in law before a chance attendance at a medical lecture sparked his interest in becoming a doctor. After earning his degree he decided to specialize in obstetrics, a choice that soon brought him to confront the problem of childbed fever. Deducing that exposure to cadavers was a factor, Semmelweis devised a regimen of hand washing that dramatically reduced the morality rate at the maternity clinic where he worked. Though Semmelweis’s treatment was simple, his ideas faced considerable resistance from leading figures in the Western medical community, with the stress from his campaigns to promote his ideas contributing to the institutionalization that led to his death in 1865.