Doctor, did you wash your hands?

Rodrigues LA, Kachala SS, Adusumilli PS.

Doctor, did you wash your hands? 

The National Medical Journal of India. 2010; 23:111-12

This communication talks about the historical event where the Hungarian doctor Ignaz Semmleweis, in 1847, discovered that something as simple as handwashing between examining / delivering pregnant women, eliminated fatal infections. At that time, the medical fraternity pooh-poohed his ideas and went to the extent of committing him to a mental hospital where he was beaten to death! Now in the 21st Century, handwashing compliance rates and reduction of hospital acquired infections are being researched, guidelines constantly updated and cost effectiveness is being monitored.

The reason to highlight this article in QMedCONNECT is not to discuss hand-washing, but to highlight the fact that in medical practice, any research hypothesis backed with at least some basic foundational evidence cannot be ignored. It is another matter that the hypothesis maybe later proved wrong with large scale research. What is important is for practitioners to have an open mind. Dr. A.J. Cronin – the author turned writer in the early 1900s mentioned aptly “I tell myself never to take anything for granted”. This during his MD Viva – when he was posed the question “What is the core foundation on which you would base your medical practice”.

Appeared in QMedCONNECT Vol 3, Issue 5, May 2010

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