The Impact Of The Laboratory On Nineteenth Century Medicine?

1598 words - 6 pages

The laboratory had an influential impact on nineteenth century medicine. It saw technological advances such as the microscope allowing the observation of cells and micro-organisms and the way minute cells were formed and appeared. The practice of medicine allowed hospitals to seek advice and improve diagnosis by the study of body parts and the workings of the body such as the study and discovery of the digestive system. Education was progressed with students having to pass laboratory tests before attending hospitals for clinical training in many parts of Europe by the end of the nineteenth century. What the period saw was grace to an abundance and change from theory to fact through careful observation and experiment.
The practice of medicine was fundamentally changed by the laboratory in the nineteenth century. The use of the laboratory allowed practitioners to provide precise diagnosis and treatment in areas such as bacteriology. Louis Pasteur of France injected animals with a weak strain of a bacterium of a disease and created vaccinations from his studies in the laboratory and tests on animals showed positive results. The experimentation of animals was the only time a physician could “…achieve true medical science’ (Source Book 2, p.68) remarked physiologist Claude Bernard in an 1865 essay. Even though Pasteur researched rare diseases such as anthrax he paved the way for physicians such as Robert Koch who discovered the bacteria of tuberculosis which in this period was a major killer of the period. These discoveries lead to tests of tuberculosis vaccine therapies and allowing treatment of the disease. The creation of these vaccines to aid the practice of physicians was greatly ameliorated by the study of microorganisms causing disease. Even though hospitals used laboratories sparingly to aid diagnosis by the end of the period their role raised more insight into the effects disease had on the body thus improving diagnosis and treatment. At the Glasgow Western Infirmary the pathologists were seen as a ‘….check upon the clinical diagnosis, usually confirming it, but sometimes correcting the surgeon’s view’ (Source Book 2, p.82). As said even though the laboratory was used sparingly in hospitals and many clinicians saw the laboratory as a threat, its use allowed better diagnosis and allowed surgeons to better their understanding of the workings of the body allowing improvement of medical practice and knowledge.
Steadily throughout the nineteenth century knowledge of medicine improved and progressed thanks to work in the laboratories. The study of histology and looking at minute plant cells through microscopes helped pave the way for the understanding of cells and their structure. The use of the microscope helped mount an array of knowledge on physiology allowing a better understanding of how the body worked. Research in the laboratory allowed physiologists to discover the workings of the brain as a localised agent processing parts of the body...

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