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A visit to the old operating theatre and the Herb Garratt is the best way to learn about medical care in the nineteenth century.Do you agree with this statement ?

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A visit to the old operating theatre and the Herb Garratt is the best way to learn about medical care in the nineteenth century. Do you agree with this statement ? In this essay I am going to discuss and explain whether or not the old operating theatre is the best way to learn about medical care in the nineteenth century. The old operating theatre, in Southwark, London has been preserved and turned into a museum. It is open to the public and school groups. Our school paid a visit to the old operating theatre to help us with this course work. The old operating theatre was situated within an old church. As it was the women's theatre it backed onto the women's ward of the old St. Thomas's Hospital. A visit to the old operating threatre brings the ideas of nineteenth century surgery to life, as you can see exactly what went on and where it happened. The visit to the old operating threatre showed us that surgery and operations were a theatrical experience as the viewing area was like that of the stands in a current threatre. This tells us that many people enjoyed watching surgical procedures. This is backed up by sources "A " and "B". Source "A", a picture of an operation at the men's old operating threatre, shows many students watching in the background. ...read more.


It did however show and explain to us how the instruments were used to make the most out of the surgeon's speed. We got shown that the surgeon did not wash his hands before an operation and that he and the dressers wore blood stained aprons, we had been taught previously about this causing the spread of infection. I was not expecting to be told about this, as germs were not discovered until the 1860's. We were told that the instruments could not be sterilized because of the metal that they were made of. I feel that the roll play was the most informative part of the day. The talk brought surgery back to life, as being told real accounts of what happened in the old operating threatre, while being there made you feel that you could have been there at the time. From the talk we learnt that up to two hundred people would stand in the tiers and watch operations. We learnt that there were no anesthetics and that the male patients could be knocked out by boxers from carnivals, however the females could not have had this done to them, as the boxers would not hit any women. Many families gave their relatives alcohol to try to numb the pain during the operations, but this thinned the blood and made patients bleed quicker, not helping the problem of bleeding. ...read more.


Also we did not learn about anesthetics or antiseptics, I think that this was because these things were not in wide use until after the hospital was shut in 1862, so they would not have been used at the old operating threatre. Visiting just the old operating threatre does not tell us about all operations as they may have been carried out in different way in different places. In conclusion I do feel that visiting the old operating threatre is better than learning from a book as it brought things to life especially the roll play and demonstrations in the Herb Garratt. However some important aspects were left out. On its own it is not the best way to learn about all medical care in the nineteenth century, as it does not explain the full picture. Different information would come from different places and things, which took place in different places, would not be the same. You would need to study all methods of treatments from the 1800's to get a fully balanced picture of medical care at that time, as some things may be biased or incorrect. So I do agree that a visit to the old operating threatre is the best way to learn about medical care in the nineteenth century. It would however be combined with other sources of information to get the full balanced picture. Simon Owen - 10J Page 1 of 4 Simon Owen ...read more.

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