Washing their hands has not been a regular procedure for doctors and nurses during the 19 th century. A young Hungarian physician, Ignaz Philip Semmelweis, brought about the change. He was shocked by the high mortality rate of women in the maternity ward of the general hospital in Vienna and thus decided to search for the cause. A tragic coincidence helped him. His good friend, the forensic doctor Jakob Kolletschka, unexpectedly died of a fever after having cut himself during an autopsy a few days earlier. The autopsy report opened Semmelweis’ eyes: Kolletschka had several suppurative focuses on various parts of his body. Present-day knowledge views this as a sign for a severe sepsis, which could also be found on many women, who had died of puerperal fever. Doctors and students in those days often performed autopsies befor treating pregnant women. Some did wash their hands with water, a few might have even taken soap, but others did not. It had to be something connected to the fingers of the physicians that transferred inflammation and death to the women. Semmelweis also accused himself for treating women after having performed autopsies and felt guilty of their death. As assistant of the professor he made sure that only those medical students who had washed their hands thoroughly with chlorinated lime solution were allowed to enter the maternity ward. The result was epochal: In April 1847 the mortalty rate of mothers still lay by 18,2 percent; in May (the order for desinfection was implemented midmonth) it decreased to 12,2 percent and in June it fell further to 2,3 percent. In March and August of the following year no woman in childbed died at all in the Ersten Klinik- giving birth there suddenly was much saver than home birth. This little excursion should make aware of the reward of intensivly engaging with the topic of hospital hygiene.
Some components of this course are e.g. area desinfection and cleaning in hospital, hand desinfection and hygiene of hands, hygiene measures for injection and puncture, hospital infections, professional and protective clothing in hospital, measures against multi resistant pathogens- measures for hygiene and safety, the prevention of catheter associated urinary tract infection, as well as the structure of hospital hygiene.
About the trainer
Olga Idt studied hygiene and epidemiology in Russia. After working in the branch of communal hygiene she aquired the degree of Master of Public Health. She works for one of the most prestigious institutes for hygiene and public health in Germany, the institute of Prof. Dr. Martin Exner at the university hospital in Bonn.