Why Not Measure Breathing Rate? The Semmelweis reflex once more

Why not measure respiratory rate? in bipolar illness?, in essential hypertension? It only takes a minute. The resistance to this is very great and I do not understand it. But then, doctor’s resisted the simple and effective practice of hand washing too.

The Semmelweis reflex or “Semmelweis effect” is a metaphor for the reflex-like tendency to reject new evidence or new knowledge because it contradicts established norms, beliefs, or paradigms.[1]

The term derives from the name of a Hungarian physician, Ignaz Semmelweis, who discovered in 1847 that childbed fever mortality rates fell ten-fold when doctors disinfected their hands with a chlorine solution before moving from one patient to another, or, most particularly, after an autopsy. (At one of the two maternity wards at the university hospital where Semmelweis worked, physicians performed autopsies on every deceased patient.) Semmelweis’s procedure saved many lives by stopping the ongoing contamination of patients (mostly pregnant women) with what he termed “cadaverous particles”, twenty years before germ theory was discovered.[2] Despite the overwhelming empirical evidence, his fellow doctors rejected his hand-washing suggestions, often for non-medical reasons. For instance, some doctors refused to believe that a gentleman’s hands could transmit disease.

I guess that measuring respiratory rate at rest is inconvenient, like washing one’s hands is inconvenient. But if it could lead to saving lives and brains and minds?

Isn’t that worth a little humble inconvenience?


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