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The History of Hand Hygiene and Why It Matters


Before, hand hygiene was not a mandatory part of providing care. Because of this, thousands of people lost their lives due to infection. The majority of these deaths were from pregnant mothers whose medical workers cared for them with dirty hands.

Ignaz Semmelweis, a Hungarian doctor working in Vienna General Hospital, is considered to be the father of hand hygiene. He noticed that mothers who gave birth in a medical student/doctor-run maternity ward were much more likely to develop a fever and die from the infection, compared to mothers who gave birth in midwife-run maternity wards.

The problem continued to arise, and Semmelweis decided to investigate. He discovered that medical students and doctors went to see the maternity ward right after performing autopsies. He developed a theory that those performing autopsies got ‘cadaverous particles’ on their hands, which they then carried from the autopsy room into the maternity ward.

After his observation, Semmelweis imposed a mandate to include handwashing as part of medical care. Because of this, mortality rates in the maternity ward dropped dramatically.

The simple act of cleaning our hands is a testament to how it can help prevent deaths caused by infections. As such, our health educators make it a point to teach our students washing and sanitization techniques and how they can bring this habit to their future practices.

Solid Rock Health Educators is a dedicated provider of healthcare training and staffing in Maryland. Our training program complies with OSHA standards for bloodborne pathogens and personal protective equipment.

Aside from that, we make sure to help employers find quality medical professionals with the aid of our medical staffing in Pikesville, Maryland. Set an appointment now for a more detailed discussion. Contact us at 410-486-2582.

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