Joseph Lister (1827-1914)

Lister is the pioneer of antiseptic surgery. He employed the method of sterilizing surgical instruments with carbolic acid. Through this advancement, he helped dispel the notion that infection was caused by “bad air” which once made it acceptable for doctors to operate with dirty lab coats and porous instruments.

Lister based his findings on Louis Pasteur’s three suggestions for sanitization: filtration, exposure to heat, and exposure to chemical solutions. Lister applied the third method to prepare wounds for surgery and to sterilize instruments. This resulted in a marked decrease in infections in hospitals.

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