Semmelweis Reflex , Semmelweis Effect

There he was able to fully implement his hand washing policy in a small maternity hospital and then at the University of Pest, where he became a professor of obstetrics. The story goes that in the 19th century, Semmelweis realized that the infant mortality rate in the hospital where he worked was plummeting if his fellow doctors frequently washed their hands with chlorine-based hand sanitizer. Semmelweis realized that this difference was due to the doctors’ habit of performing autopsies and examining women in maternity hospitals without hand disinfection, a practice that caused the infection. [Sources: 6, 13, 14]

Ignaz Semmelweis suggested that doctors infect patients with what he called “cadaveric particles” and immediately demanded that all medical personnel wash their hands with a solution of chlorinated lime before treating patients and giving birth. Despite the fact that Semmelweis published his findings, which showed that hand washing reduced deaths from birth fever to less than 1%, his observations were rejected by the medical community. This was partly due to the fact that he could not provide a scientific explanation for his observations (more on this in a moment), but also because doctors were offended by the simple suggestion to wash their hands. Other doctors believed that a gentleman’s hand could not transmit disease. [Sources: 0, 4, 8]

As is often the case with people who, for good reasons, try to change existing beliefs, Semmelweis’s life ended badly. Semmelweis was fired from the hospital, harassed by the medical community, and eventually suffered a nervous breakdown and died in an orphanage. His theory largely challenged the long-standing practice and beliefs of the medical community regarding such fever and, despite compelling evidence presented by Semmelweis, was ridiculed and rejected in the medical community. [Sources: 0, 7, 8]

The question arises as to why the medical community did not accept, or at least did not consider, the sterilization claims submitted by Semmelweis. Perhaps even more worrisome, 150 years after the publication of Semmelweis ‘treatise, we continue to encounter Semmelweis’ modern thinking on the use of hand hygiene in health care. Hand washing during the coronavirus pandemic seems like a universal habit. [Sources: 5, 7, 10]

Ignaz Semmelweis, a Hungarian doctor named after a real person, discovered in 1847 that when the doctor disinfected his hands before moving, the death toll caused by the so-called childbirth fever (bacterial infection of the female reproductive tract after childbirth or abortion) was drastic. decline. From one person to another. It is named after the 19th century Hungarian doctor Ignaz Semmelweis, who was one of the first scientists to prove the link between hospital hygiene and infection, long before Louis Pasteur popularized the theory of microorganisms. [Sources: 0, 1]

Semmelweis worked in two clinics in the same hospital in Vienna, where mortality rates for women in childbirth differed sharply. Semmelweis spent years trying to tell the difference between the two, which would explain why Clinic 1 was much more deadly than Clinic 2. [Sources: 1]

Semmelweis hypothesized that medical personnel and, in particular, doctors passed the disease from one patient to another. Although the microbial theory of the disease had not yet been established, he argued that doctors who immediately went from autopsy to examining pregnant women at the First Obstetric Clinic of the hospital somehow transmitted the infection to those women who were dying at an alarming rate compared to poorer patients. Second clinics cared for by midwives, not doctors. In 1846, three years after Holmes’s publication, Ignaz Semmelweis, a Hungarian physician who is an icon in the community of health epidemiologists, independently reached a similar conclusion from his careful assessment of the increase in maternal mortality in the maternity ward compared to that in the obstetric ward. his hospital. Since Semmelweis could not explain the underlying mechanism, skeptical doctors looked for other reasons. [Sources: 5, 14]

The new Semmelweis theory did not fit the prevailing theory and therefore many physicians ignored it. Modern critics have suggested cleaner ways of testing the phenomena described by Semmelweis. Despite overwhelming evidence – the method stopped the ongoing infection of pregnant women – Semmelweis was unable to convince his peers of the effectiveness of his simple solution. [Sources: 1, 6, 10]

Some doctors rejected his idea on the grounds that a gentleman’s hands could not transmit disease. Despite compelling empirical evidence, most of the medical world rejected his theory for incorrect medical and non-medical reasons. However, despite overwhelming evidence of the effectiveness of his intervention, his ideas were met with skepticism – and even ridicule – by the modern medical community, including many of the leading medical experts of the time. The reaction to his discoveries has been so significant that 150 years later, we now refer to circumstances where factual knowledge is recklessly and systematically rejected because evidence contradicts existing culture or contradicts existing paradigms such as “Semmelweis thinking.” [Sources: 5, 6, 8]

The story of Semmelweis inspired a concept called the Semmelweis effect-the reflexive rejection of evidence or new knowledge that violates established norms, beliefs, and paradigms. Semmelweiss reflection is a metaphor for the instinct and reflex tendency to reject new evidence or knowledge because it contradicts existing and established beliefs or norms. The reflex or Semmelweis effect refers to the tendency to automatically reject new information or knowledge because it conflicts with current thoughts or beliefs. The Semmelweis effect is a reflexive tendency to reject new evidence or new knowledge because it conflicts with established beliefs, norms, or paradigms. [Sources: 0, 6, 8, 11]

The Semmelweis reflex means that people instinctively avoid, reject, and play down any new evidence or knowledge that goes against their established beliefs, practices, or values. Thus, the Semmelweis reflex is a reflex-type reaction by which people reject new information if it contradicts established norms or paradigms. It is a form of persistence bias, in which people will stick to their beliefs despite the fact that new information directly contradicts them. [Sources: 1, 12]

This effect is called the Semmelweis reflex, which Thomas Szasz has described as the “invincible social force of false truths” – a phenomenon so dangerous that it has claimed many lives throughout history. The two-sided nature of this reflex is revealed when its importance is emphasized in prematurely accepted medical failures. Careful and careful study design, scientific rigor, and critical self-examination of the manuscript can help avoid falling prey to this reflex. This tendency is elegantly described by the concept of the Semmelweiss reflex, the instinctive rejection of new and unwanted ideas. [Sources: 3, 4, 12]

This is diametrically opposed to the Semmelweiss reflex, which means that we accept new ideas and facts too quickly when they are compatible with our thinking. If they contradict each other, as in the original case of Semmelweis, we reject them too easily. This instinctive tendency to reject new evidence because it contradicts established beliefs is called the “Semmelweis reflex”, which makes us easily reject complex new ideas. We can learn to avoid the Semmelweis reflex by not sticking to our beliefs or losing our bias when new evidence emerges. [Sources: 4, 12]

Awareness can increase the likelihood of the Semmelweis reflex occurring before it occurs, but like all psychological phenomena, there are a number of other confusing and competing variables that interact when making decisions. In scenarios where evidence of alternative explanations for observed phenomena emerges, the aforementioned biases may cause an automatic tendency to reject new knowledge. [Sources: 10]

— Slimane Zouggari


##### Sources #####