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hand-washing


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The practice of disinfecting hands with soap and water is supposedly universal in patient care although not always performed conscientiously. It was recognized to be a necessary step in prevention of infection in the Allegemeines Krankenhaus in Vienna by the Hungarian physician Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis (1818–1865) and the American physician Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809–1894) at the Boston Lying-in Hospital. Each independently concluded on the basis of observation and experiment that hand-washing prevented puerperal sepsis, but both had the same experience of aggressively hostile rejection of their beliefs by fellow professionals.

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology.


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