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Database - Alliance francophone pour l'accouchement respecté (AFAR)

Record ID : 670
Created on : 19/04/2004
Modified on : 1/12/2007

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Author(s) :

Nuland SB.

Year of publication :


Bibliographical entry (without author) :

The Doctors' Plague--Germs, Childbed Fever, and the Strange Story of Ignàc Semmelweis.
New York: WW Norton and Company, 2003. Pp 191. $21.95. ISBN 0 393 05299 0.

Résumé (français) :

Abstract (English):

Résumé et commentaires dans le Lancet 2004;363(9417), par Didier Pittet :

Spring, 1847. She is 18 years old. It is Sunday, and she is happy because she won't have to go alone. Liesl, her best friend, will accompany her to the Allgemeine Krankenhaus (general hospital). Her mother had died several years previously, and her beloved Papa had ordered her out of his house several months ago when he discovered she was pregnant. "Now her baby would have to be born in secret, in the anonymity of this large public hospital where no one knows her, and she knows no one." By the time she reaches the ward the girl is exhausted, and her pains are becoming stronger and more frequent. On arrival, a medical student at the registration desk points a finger to his right and tells the accompanying nurse: "Take her to the First Division." The girl hesitates because "she had heard that she must specifically ask to be admitted to the unit where the deliveries were done by midwives". She knows that in one of the two Divisions only medical students and attending doctors are delivering the babies, which means "more examinations during the course of labour and therefore many exploring fingers into her birth canal". She understands quickly that she is to be admitted to the "Doctors Division". Despite her pains becoming even stronger, she pleads: "But please, let me go to the other ward. I want my baby to be delivered by a midwife." But the hospital has rules: patients are divided equally. "From Friday afternoon until Sunday afternoon, we admit to the First Division. You must go to the doctors!"

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Keywords :

deontology ; history, sociology ; infections ; ethics

Author of this record :

C. Loup

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