• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Medicine Developments

Extracts from this document...


Describe how medicine and surgery improved between 1870 and 1900 Oliver Latham The late 19th century was a period of enormous medical change and progress. Many diseases that had been fatal in 1800 were either treatable by 1900, or a cure would be found very early in the 20th Century using techniques developed by 19th-century scientists. Doctors, chemists, and scientists investigated medicine using new scientific technology made available by the Industrial Revolution, and made discoveries that changed the face of medical practice. Most important was the development of the 'germ' theory (1857) by Louis Pasteur, a discovery that gave doctors and scientists the key to understanding, treating, and preventing disease. There was huge progress in discovering the causes of disease in this period. For centuries common sense had told people that there was a connection between 'dirty' conditions and disease but they had yet to explian what the link was. In the early 1800's it was explained by miasma or 'bad air' which was given off rubbish and decaying matter. In the 1850's however, French scientist, Louis Pasteur became interested in micro - organisms and developed a theory that these 'germs', as he called them, were the cause of the problem. ...read more.


The former had been a scourge of the population, especially children, whereas the other was a leading cause of death in wars due to infected wounds. Such a discovery came about with the knowledge that it was certain substances, called toxins, which some bacterium such as tetanus secrete, that cause disease. There was also improvements in surgery in this period. Surgery in the early 1800's was dangerous and painful. Surgeons had to work quickly and there was no way of completely relieving pain suffered by the patient. Infection was perhaps the greatest danger; germs entering wounds could cause blood poisoning and gangrene. Almost half of all patients who had leg amputations died because of infection. Until the acceptance of the 'germ' theory in the 1860's, surgeons did not take any precautions to protect open wounds. They reused bandages, thus spreading disease from patient to patient. Doctors did not wash their hands before an operation, nor did they sterilise their equipment. However once they concluded that it was the 'germs' that were causing complications surgeons started developing way to prevent them entering wounds. ...read more.


During the same period chemistry was developing and scientists were finding that certain chemicals could have an effect on the body. Ether was used by J.R Listoon in London in 1800 to anaesthetise a patient during a leg amputation. However ether had severe drawbacks. It irrated the lungs, causing the patient to cough during the operation. It was also unstable and produced inflammable vapour. In 1847 the effects effects of chloroform were discovered and it was soon used to help relieve women's labour pains during childbirth. However chloroform was more dangerous to a patient than ether especially when adminsitered by an untrained practioner. Local anaesthetics became more widely used as these did not seem to produce the same side effects as gas treatment. Anesthetics based on cocaine started to be used from 1884. The late nineteenth century marked a time of key discovery. Scientists were able to identify the causes of and largely treat a wide range of diseases. With the knowledge of the 'germ' theory surgeons made greater efforts to prevent the spread of disease in the operating theatre by devising new aseptic and antiseptic methods which, while not perfect, significantly improved the success rate of operations by limiting infection. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE History Projects section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE History Projects essays

  1. The significance of Louis Pasteur, Robert Koch and Paul Elrich.

    now more scientific research begins to made in to finding more magic bullets but no more are found until the discovery of prontasil in 1932 just before world war 1.

  2. History of Medicine - the development of anaesthetics

    Since chloroform left patients unconscious, surgeons spent longer carrying out more complicated operations. This meant there was more chance of the patient getting infection and dying. This meant that surgeons lost confidence in chloroform. 5. There was religious opposition to anaesthetics.

  1. Alexander Von Humboldt in Colombia

    en la cual los canales eran el medio donde se mov�a el comercio de la regi�n que para la �poca reun�a a un conglomerado importante del comercio mundial. Estas visiones se podr�an ver semejantes a la percepci�n que ten�a Humboldt para el r�o Magdalena, este proyecto geopol�tico si se le

  2. Evacuation was a success

    51 11 16 5 Male 1.65 47 17.3 Primary Data: I had to collect 20 adults information: 10 male and 10 female, aged over 20. I did this in form of an interview by making a call and in person.

  1. Development of Medicine

    It was this man that delineated that all diseases result from disorders in the cells, the basic units of body tissue. His conclusion that the cell is the initiator of disease remains the cornerstone of modern medical science. In France, physiologist Claude Bernard showed that his scientific studies emphasized that

  2. Describe law and order in the late nineteenth century

    By 1878 a Detective branch established and the Criminal Intelligence Department (CID) was produced. This especially led to an astonishing improvement to the work of detectives. As beforehand, in 1877 three out of four detectives were found guilty of either not performing their duties or performing them in an improper way, otherwise known as corruption.

  1. History of Medicine Revision Notes.

    John of Ardene used drugs to anaesthetize people which had not been done before ? progress made 1. War and the crusades meant progress could be made in surgery Why was there such Little Progress in Medicine in the Middle Ages?

  2. History of plastic surgery; how plastic surgery became a usual thing in Korea

    In India, Doctors began to use skin grafts for reconstructive work as early as the 8th century BC. A well-known Physician named Sushruta Samhita documented detailed descriptions of rhinoplasty and otoplasty. The Romans were also involved in the beginning days of cosmetic surgery.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work