Views & Reviews Past Caring

Rubber love

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.d5915 (Published 20 September 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d5915
  1. Wendy Moore, freelance writer and author, London
  1. wendymoore{at}ntlworld.com

Sometimes the greatest medical innovations are also the simplest. Take gloves. Pasteur proved his germ theory in 1857, and Lister pioneered antiseptic procedures in 1865, but surgeons continued to operate with blood encrusted bare hands for more than another two decades. It took an operating theatre romance, as poignant as any Mills and Boon novel, to bring about change.

The US surgeon William Stewart Halsted (1852-1922) was an early adopter of Lister’s antisepsis regime and an enthusiastic pioneer of anaesthesia. Born and trained in New York, Halsted spent two years studying in Europe’s most progressive laboratories and hospitals, …

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