Philosophy of Natural Sciences (The Case of Semmelweis)
1. Semmelweis’ hypothesis concerning the priest was that he was having a psychological effect on the patients of childbed fever. Whenever they heard the priest coming they would be terrified thus having a debilitation effect upon the patients.
2. Semmelweis tested this hypothesis by having the priest enter the sick chamber by a roundabout route and without the ringing of the bell so that he could get there silently and unobserved.
3. Semmelweis adapted the lateral position in the first Division because the women in the second Division was lying on their sides. This change in method did little to reduce childbed fever and the mortality rate was unaffected.
4. Other than Semmelweis in the first Division the patients were treated by the medical students. And in the patients in the second Division was treated by the midwives.
5. The tragic incident that opened Semmelweis’ eye was when his friend Kolletschka, received a puncture wound in his finger, from the scalpel of a student with whom he was performing an autopsy. He then died after displaying the same symptoms of childbed fever. Semmelweis then realized that “Cadaveric matter” from the student’s scalpel after the autopsy had been introduced into his friend’s bloodstream causing his death.
6. His hypothesis using the conditional format was that in the Second Division the patients were attended primarily by midwives whose training did not include anatomical instruction by dissection of cadavers. Women who had street births who arrived with babies in their arms were rarely examined and thus had a better chance of escaping infection. Similarly the victims of childbed fever among newborn babies were all among those whose mothers had contracted the disease during labor; for then the baby could have contracted the disease before birth through the common blood stream where as it was impossible as the mother remained healthy.
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