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History

19th-century surgery

Antiseptics and blood transfusions

For infection - antiseptics

  • 1847: Ignaz Semmelweiss (Hungary) cut the death rate in his maternity ward by making the doctors wash their hands in calcium chloride solution before treating their patients.
  • 1854: Standards of hospital cleanliness and nursing care rose rapidly under the influence of Florence Nightingale.
  • 1865: Joseph Lister (Scotland) - basing his ideas on Pasteur's Germ Theory cut the death rate among his patients from 46 to 15 per cent by spraying instruments and bandages with a 1-in-20 solution of carbolic acid.
  • 1890: Beginnings of aseptic surgery - surgeons started boiling their instruments to sterilise them - WS Halstead (America) started using rubber gloves when operating - German surgeons started to use face masks.

For blood loss - blood transfusions

  • 1901: Karl Landsteiner (Austria) - discovered blood groups. Transfusions had been tried before but usually killed the patient because of clotting. Matching blood groups stopped this happening.
  • 1913: Richard Lewisohn discovered that sodium citrate stopped blood clotting during an operation.
  • 1938: The National Blood Transfusion Service was set up in Britain.

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