171 ya: Dr Ignaz Semmelweis makes hand-washing mandatory for obstetricians at Vienna General Hospital. The incidence of puerperal fever, a mass murderer of mothers, drops by 90% overnight, vindicating Semmelweis’ hunch that iatrogenic contagion is to blame. His students soon replicate this miracle in maternity wards throughout the Austro-Hungarian Empire and publish their results in the scientific press.
153 ya: Almost two decades have passed since the empirical confirmation of Semmelweis’ ideas, but mainstream pathology perseverates in ignoring them, sticking to the ancient and evidence-free consensus on miasmas, ’humoral imbalance’ and leeching. Semmelweis himself has been vilified and hounded from his job by the medical establishment, to whom the very suggestion that their hands might be vectors of disease was an affront, coming as it did from a Jew with a low h-index. Unemployed, angry and deeply depressed by the needless deaths of thousands of women a year, Semmelweis is committed to an insane asylum. The guards welcome him with a savage beating. His injuries fail to heal and within a fortnight, at the age of 47, he has died of blood poisoning.by Brad Keyes (part reblog from)