Yet a post about the life and times of the infamous Dr. Osler won't come on this blog for another few months. First we must consider medical significance of the era to which he was born into.
It was an era, they say, where physicians were just starting to adapt to new equipment, such as the stethoscope, laryngoscope, thermometer and microscope. Students were just starting to learn about them, and physicians just starting to adapt them into their daily practice.
The incorporation and use of these devices would allow physicians to learn what went on inside the body that affected what went on outside the body. It was by knowledge obtained by their investigations with these tools that antiquated medical theories about medicine were being reviewed. Those proven true were further substantiated, and those proven false were cast away.
The following are some of the significant contributions that affected the medical community at this time:
|Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-1894)|
was among the first to realize
fevers may spread by unclean hands.
(4, page 457)
|Ignaz Semmelweis (1818-1865)|
proved hand washing between patients
reduced the spread of sickness.
He was mocked and ignored.
(4, page 458)
|Charles Darwin (1809-1882)|
His theory of evolution
may have been controversial,
yet it helped transform medicine.
1859: Charles Darwin, the grandson of Erasmus Darwin, published his "Origin of Species" in which he introduced his theory of evolution. Surely it resulted in much scrutiny and controversy, but this may have been one of the key publications that helped to spark the scientific revolution, of which the medical profession was one of the main beneficiaries. However, and to be expected, many proud and stubborn medical professors and physicians refused to let go of old theories. Yet the few who did continued investigating, and scientific evidence would ultimately force change, and change for the better.
|Louis Pasteur (1882-1895)|
His Germ theory of Medicine
1865: Louis Pasteur discovered that microbes were the cause of diseases. He invented vaccinations for anthrax, cholera, consumption and smallpox." (3)
|Joseph Lister (1827-1912)|
invented a rinse to disinfect wounds.
It was also useful for cleaning mouths.
1870s: Joseph Lister discovered that antiseptic use reduced post surgical infections. He was a British scientist and physician who observed that about 50 percent of amputation patients survived the surgery but died later of septic fevers, or what was known as "ward fevers." With knowledge of the works of men like Pasteur and Semmelweiz, Lister surmised microbes in the air were infecting wounds, and so he used phenol as an antimicrobial to reduce the death rate by 15 percent. (4) He recommended the antimicrobial carbolic acid to be placed on bandages to keep the wounds clean, and he invented a machine to pump carbolic acid into the air in the rooms where surgeries were being performed. Post operative mortality rates plummeted. (5)
|Listerine bottle from the 1920s|
- "Sir William Osler At Seventy -- A Retrospect," The Journal of the American medical Association," 1919, Saturday, July 12, pages 106-108
- Osler, William, "The Principles and Practice of Medicine," 1892, New York, pages 497-501
- Bliss, Micheal, "William Osler: A Life in Medicine," 1999, New York
- Garrison, Fielding Hudson, "An introduction to the history of medicine," 1921, London and Philadelphia,
- Jackson, Mark, "Asthma: The Biography," 2009, New York, pages 211-12
- Brenner, Barry E, ed., "Emergency Asthma," 1998, New York, pages 212-14
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