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Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis. Medical Pioneer in Infection. Persecuted for Ideas Which are Now Seen as Obvious.




Semmelweiss was an Austrian, born in Hungary. You may correctly been thinking, wait a minute Dr Richard Semelka has Austrian ancestry, and his last name is Czech, same sort of first-lettering to the last name and same harkening to the Austrian Empire with Hungarian and Bohemian territorial starts.. There are more similarities.

He was one of the pioneers in the understanding of infection, considered one of the pioneers of aseptic technique and has been come to be regarded as the "savior of mothers" (sort of similar to "savior of individuals with GDD, most of whom are women"). He observed that handwashing prior to performing delivery on women reduced dramatically the incidence of postpartum infection from 10% to 2%, which was almost always fatal (pre-antibiotics by 80 years). This was especially true because medical students and doctors commonly went directly from the morgue performing autopsies to the delivery room.

This observation, which has become so commonly understood for so long, but still imperfectly enacted: signs are present in all patient rooms in hospitals: 'wash your hands before touching patient' as they are in restaurants' 'all staff must wash their hands after using the toilet'; that is is hard to conceive that at the time, in the mid 1840s, colleague physicians a the First Obstetrical Clinic at the University of Vienna ridiculed the idea and were offended at the concept of hand washing before delivering babies. At the time, medical theory relied on the Four Humours concept of disease (more in a later blog). Incidentally at the same time the Second Obstetrical Clinic, which was run by female midwives had an infection rate of 4%. In retrospect this was largely due to the fact that they did not perform autopsies. Women begged not to be delivered at the First Clinic by male doctors, and would often, if they were admitted against their wishes to the First Clinic, run out to the street, pretending they had to get something, in order to deliver on the street rather than in the First Clinic.


His conflict with conventional medical thinking was so vigorously opposed that eventually he was driven to excess drinking, nervous break-down and his colleagues had him committed to an insane asylum. Shortly after admission the guards beat him, and perhaps appropriately enough he died of sepsis from a hand injury sustained by the beating 14 days later. 13 Aug 1865 at age 47.

Approximately 10 years later Louis Pasteur confirmed these type of findings with his germ theory, and they became accepted practice.


Psychiatry has also advanced since that time, with severe beatings no longer performed as the first line treatment for mental illness and depression, it is now second or third line therapy with ECT.


I must confess, I do find it hard to believe that still to this day, legitimate university radiologists can write articles that get published in major journals like European Radiology that there is no evidence of clinical disease from the known retention of Gadolinium in the body. Gadolinium in being retained in the body but does not cause any disease in anyone without renal failure, even though it is a foreign heavy metal. Really?!? In fact I consider one of the most important advances that the story of Gd allows is to discover the mechanisms (which are grounded in the immune system) that prevents the great majority of people from not being made sick by this. Understanding what the body does to prevent this will be a huge scientific breakthrough.


I have used this quote by another Austrian, Arthur Schopenhauer on the 3 stages of the acceptance of truth: First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident. In the realm of truth. We are nearing the ugly end of the second phase.


The observation that I have made is; the denial reflects "opinion unencumbered by knowledge". Interestingly, Rep Dan Crenshaw came up with a similar quote recently regarding issues with his fellow Republican congressmen: "The height of stupidity is to have a strong opinion of something you know nothing about". This also applies here.


I hope the similarity with Semmelweiss stops with observing an important medical advance and having it dismissed. It has been observed, and I have misplaced the reference, that one of the great impediments in science has been the inability of the establishment to recognition new game-changing advances ..... at some short time I will also describe another major advance (that also is met with violent opposition): Splanchnic Inflammatory Syndrome. Also the other main subject that I am tackling is cover-up by senior administration of gross medical malpractice in universities and medical systems - which also has enormous opposition in my Whistle Blower case against UNC Chapel Hill. The unifying theme of all these topics is that there is always great opposition when one puts the welfare of patients ahead of preservation of the status quo. And I agree that I have committed these terrible acts: I have put the welfare of patients ahead of my career and the status quo, and I have attempted to disrupt the status quo in health care and university systems by exposing physician misconduct and cover-up


In the modern age I had thought that this type of ignorance, based on rejection by current medical orthodoxy of novel major advances, no longer existed, especially when espoused by one of the titans in the field. I guess a number of things don't change.


The GDD reader need not panic, I now have outlived Semmelweiss by some 17 years, still have not been too enraged and driven to insanity by the ignorance of the mass medical audience. And if admitted to an asylum I suspect I will not be beaten to death on admission by the guards (unless it is in North Carolina under the auspices of UNC). And there are now antibiotics that can be used to treat a serious infection (although potent antibiotics will put me at greater risk for developing GDD). Finally the times are a-changing, it progressively will become less acceptable to be ignorant of at least the subject matter of GDD. The whistle blowing to hold senior administration accountable for covering up misconduct will probably take longer. And actually I most often appreciate the dark humor of these situations.... by the way also the best way to stay sane by seeing the humor in bad circumstances created by bad people. I will maintain my focus to vanquish misconduct, and bring perpetrators to justice.


Richard Semelka, MD

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