Simpson or Lister?

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Simpson

  • Found new anaesthetic to replace ether.
  • Accidentally came across chloroform.
  • Chloroform used in operating theatres and to reduce pain in childbirth.
  • Sometimes affected heart, making patients suddenly die.
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Lister

  • Semmelweis used chloride of lime to control spread of puerpal fever but it was very unpleasant so wasn't widely used.
  • Had seen carbolic acid being used in sewage works to keep smell down.
  • Tried it in the operating theatre in early 1860s and saw it reduced infection rates.
  • Heard about Pasteur's germ theory in 1865, realised germs could be in air or on surgical instruments and bandages so he used carbolic acid on them which produced further improvements.
  • However, carbolic acid is unpleasant to get on skin or breathe in so many doctors and nurses didn't use or like it.
  • Use of antiseptic conditions reduced death rates from 50% to 15%.
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Why Lister was more important.

  • His ideas reduced death rates, whereas early anaesthetics led to a rise in death rates.
  • Even though carbolic acid was unpleasant, it didn't cause sudden deaths like chloroform did.
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