Joseph Lister Facts

Joseph Lister Facts
Joseph Lister, 1st Baron Lister, Bt., OM, FRS, PC (April 5, 1827 to February 10, 1912), was a British surgeon and a pioneer of antiseptic surgery. He successfully introduced carbolic acid (now known as phenol) to sterilize surgical instruments and to clean wounds, which led to a reduction in the postoperative infection rate.
Interesting Joseph Lister Facts:
Joseph Lister was born into a prosperous Quaker family from Essex.
He entered University College, London which was one of the few British colleges that accepted Quakers.
In 1847 he earned his B.A and then entered the Royal College of Surgeons and earned his B.S. in Medicine.
In 1854 he became the first assistant to James Syme at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.
Lister first suspected the antiseptic properties of phenol when it was used to decrease the stench from fields irrigated with raw sewage.
He thought it was safe since livestock which grazed on treated land were not harmed.
Lister married Agnes, daughter of his friend and mentor James Syme, and she became his laboratory assistant.
Until Lister's research, wound infections were thought to be the result of bad air and hospital wards were aired out to halt the spread of infection.
Hand washing was not generally practiced because surgeons considered it unnecessary.
While he was a professor of surgery at the University of Glasgow, Lister read a paper by Louis Pasteur which showed that fermentation could occur under anaerobic conditions and recommended three methods to kill the microorganisms that caused the fermentation.
Since the first two, exposure to heat and filtration, were not useful for treating living tissue Lister experimented with the third, using chemical solutions.
Lister tested the use of carbolic acid and in 1865 he applied it to the wound of an eleven-year-old boy who had suffered a compound fracture.
After 6 weeks the boy's leg had healed without gangrene and the bones had fused.
Lister published the results of his studies in a series of articles in the British medical journal, The Lancet, in which he urged surgeons to wash their hands and instruments with a 5% carbolic solution and to wear clean gloves.
His work in methods of antisepsis have secured his place as the father of modern surgery.
He moved from Scotland to King's College Hospital in London and in 1881 he was elected President of the Clinical Society of London.
On August 24, 1902 Edward VII was diagnosed with acute appendicitis two days before his coronation and at that time the risk of postoperative infection made appendectomy extremely dangerous.
Although Lister was retired he was considered the leading surgical consultant of the day, and he advised the surgeons on the latest methods of sterile technique.
The King survived and he credited Lister with his recovery.
He was awarded many honors for his contributions to medical science and the Lister Medal was established which is the most prestigious prize awarded to a surgeon.
He was president of the Royal Society from 1895 to 1900 and was one of the twelve original members of the Order of Merit.


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