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As a young physician (in the 19th century), I was struck by the number of women dying of puerperal (i.e. childbed) fever in the ward I oversaw. Upon learning that another ward in the same hospital in which midwives oversaw births had a much lower fatality rate, I conducted a study to determine the source of the problem.

I eventually came to the conclusion that the source of the problem was the fact that doctors frequently performed autopsies before coming to the birth ward. After ordering all staff to wash their hands in chlorinated lime prior to seeing to patients in the ward as well as ordering a cleaning of the ward itself, the number of deaths from puerperal fever dropped dramatically.

Unfortunately my conclusions were not accepted and I was dismissed from my post. Death rates in the ward rose again, as high as they had been before the changes I implemented.

After years of rejection of my work, I was tricked into entering a mental asylum in 1865 where I was then detained. I died two weeks later, probably from the beating I received when I was committed, having never experienced the acceptance of my scientific work.

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Ignaz Semmelweis Louis Pasteur Robert Koch Antony van Leeuwenhoek
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