Advancements In Med Care Essay

1913 words - 8 pages

George Wunderlich once stated, “The American Civil War often gets credit for ending slavery and reshaping the federal government in this country. But the war between the states has another, often overlooked legacy: It may have started a new era in modern medicine” (“Civil War Medicine Quotes”). Contamination of medical equipment, poor sanitation methods, and lack of efficient medical procedures all led to the spread of disease, which resulted in death. However, modern medicine has significantly improved from the Civil War, due to its horrendous medical practices. The Civil War had countless impacts on the nation, but its most significant impacts were the advances in medical equipment, procedures and sanitation.
Among diseases and injuries, sanitation was one of the leading causes of death during the war. When the Civil War began, the United States was not medically prepared for the war and the excessive amount of deaths that occurred. Michael Rhode, an archivist at the National Museum of Health of Health and Medicine said, “Medically, the United States was woefully prepared when the Civil War began in the spring of 1861” (Sohn). With the United States not being prepared for war, doctors and surgeons were able to realize the advances they needed to make in the medical field, mainly in the sanitation systems. During the Civil War, standardized medical schools did not exist. Because doctors did not receive the proper education, they had no idea how many diseases were spread, and therefor used contaminated medical equipment while operating on a patient. Not only did medical officials use contaminated equipment, they also performed surgeries on medical tables that were covered in viruses and diseases from blood from different patients. While the typical soldier was at a very high risk of being shot and killed in combat, he faced an even greater risk of dying from a contaminated wound (Hirsch). If doctors would not have had horrendous sanitation methods during the Civil War, Americans would not have the sophisticated sanitation systems they have today. Wunderlich states, “Civil War medicine was every bit barbaric as it’s made out to be, and surgeons weren’t even washing their hands” (Rutkaw). Since surgeons and doctors were not washing their hands, disease and infection rates increased causing medical officials to look for a cure; which led to many new medical advances. The deadly sanitation methods and systems during the Civil War highly impacted the sanitation methods medical officials use today.
Despite its barbaric reputation, the Civil War greatly impacted the sanitation systems used in today’s medical fields. One major impact in today’s sanitation systems, are the methods doctors and surgeons use to help prevent disease and infections. One way doctors prevent the spread of diseases, is by washing their hands for a full ten minutes before operating or examining a patient. This method of preventing diseases is efficient because it kills the...

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