Wha's like us

A — Antisepsis

Picture of a re-created early hospital ward

'Portion of the Lister Ward in the old Glasgow Royal Infirmary, re-erected in the Wellcome Historical Medical Museum.'


Joseph Lister (1827-1912) introduced the eradication of infection in the operating theatre around 1865. 

An English doctor working in the Glasgow Royal Infirmary, Lister had become aware of Louis Pasteur's findings on the proliferation of germs as a cause of disease.

Lister used carbolic acid, a chemical solution, to treat wounds, instruments and hospital equipment.

His experiments reduced infection and ultimately the mortality rate after surgery.

He also introduced the use of sterilised dressings and instructed those under his responsibility to wear clean gloves and wash their hands before and after operations.

Lister's methods in antiseptic surgery were rapidly adopted in Germany. However, it took nearly a generation for American and British surgeons to be convinced of their effectiveness.


An ABC of Scotland

Antisepsis was just one of the 'A' topics in our alphabetical exhibition celebrating outstanding achievements by Scotland and Scots.

'Wha's like us?' ran from 13 December 2013 to 18 May 2014.

'B' image 



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