The career and character of Dr. Ignazio Filippo Semmelweis is the focus of this sometimes confusing but informative biographical film. Semmelweis is the Hungarian doctor who first proposed that infections are transmitted by germs from one person to the next. His biggest contribution to the advancement of medicine is when he discovers why fevers can occur during childbirth (and sometimes cause death). The good yet often surly doctor notes that his students go directly from anatomy class to gynecology and do not wash their hands in between. When they examine their female patients, the germs from the cadavers are passed on to the women. This simple discovery is revealed in flashbacks, along with the scientific community's resistence to the idea. The doctor's own ironic death is noted right at the beginning of the story.
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