Jul 25, 2014

Joseph Lister

The idea of clean operating rooms did not exist until Joseph Lister began his practice of antisepsis in the 1860's. He introduced washing surgical instruments in carbolic acid, and keeping the operating area clean and sterile. He used it on the incision wound, dressings, and instruments. It was a revolutionary change for hospitals. Lister discovered that the infections in wounds which caused so many surgical deaths were not caused by the miasma in the air, but by something entirely different.

In his article in The Lancet of 21 September 1867 and his book 'Antiseptic Principle of the Practice of Surgery' he explained the cause was microorganisms that traveled from the surgeon’s hands onto the wound. Because of his miraculous results in operative and post-operative infection, Lister is considered to be one of the founders of modern surgery.

In 1893 Dr. J.C. Bloodgood (his real name) insisted on surgical glove use by his entire surgical team. This was followed by W. Steward Halstead's adoption of surgical gloves at Johns Hopkins that gained national exposure. Halstead is generally credited with the glove's discovery, which is not true.

Listerine was formulated by Dr. Joseph Lawrence and Jordan Wheat Lambert in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1879. Joseph Lister had nothing to do with it, other than it was named after him.