Moments of TruthFour Creators of Modern Medicine
Who were the scientific geniuses behind some of the most innovative and important discoveries in modern medicine? Medical science in the 21st century is continuing to advance, but the character of that advancement is now governed by research teams and committees. Yet in the 19th century – a century when there were many great individual discoveries in medicine – the contributions of four individuals in particular accelerated developments in each of the main branches of medicine. This medical history by Thomas Dormandy focuses on these four individuals and their "moments of truth" - Laennec, a French physician; Semmelweis, a Hungarian obstetrician; Lister, a Scottish surgeon; and Walter Reed, an American army pathologist. They are not well known, compared with their contemporaries in other walks of life, yet their moments of truth transformed the lives of millions. Thomas Dormandy is a retired consultant pathologist (MD, PhD, DSc, FRCS, FRCPath). He is the author of over 300 scientific papers and two books aimed at a general readership, The White Death: A History of Turberculosis , which was short listed for the Aventis prize and RMS book of the month, and Old Masters, a work of art history.
Acknowledgements. Introduction. 1 Laennec and the Stethoscope. 2 Semmelweis and Childbed Fever. 3 Lister and Antiseptic Surgery. 4 Reed and the Control of Yellow Fever. Epilogue. Notes. Bibliography. Index.
Thomas Dormandy is a retired consultant pathologist (MD, DSc, FRCS, FRCPath). He is the author of over 300 scientific papers as well as two books aimed at a general readership, The White Death, a history of tuberculosis (short-listed for the Aventis Prize) and Old Masters, a work of art history.
The nineteenth century saw the transformation of medicine and surgery from the treatment of unexplained symptoms based on ancient lore and skilled butchery into the science-based profession that we would recognise today. The change was brought about not by a series of random events but by the effort of a few individuals who experienced a moment of truth and who fought, often against fierce resistance, to have that truth generally recognised. In this compelling narrative Thomas Dormandy takes the reader from revolutionary France, through imperial Austria and Victorian England, to the United States of the early twentieth century. He describes with compassion and insight the, often tragic, lives of individuals who fought with extraordinary determination to relieve suffering and to save lives.
In the early eighteenth century admission to hospital was often a death sentence and operations little more than excruciating butchery. Thomas Dormandy recounts in vivid detail the lives of four men who helped to change this and who created modern medicine and surgery. They are: Rene Laennec (1781- 1826) a French physician, who invented the stethoscope and virtually created modern physical diagnosis. He worked tirelessly to give his patients not only health but also dignity and hope until he himself succumbed to the greatest killer of his age, tuberculosis. Ignác Semmelweis (1818- 1865) a brilliant but volatile Hungarian, who discovered why so many young women died in agony following childbirth. He himself died forsaken by all in a mental hospital. Joseph Lister (1827- 1912) a British surgeon, who recognised the cause of ‘hospital sepsis’ and devised a way to combat it. It opened the way to modern surgery. A great Victorian, he was high-minded, hard-working and compassionate but not without human weaknesses. Walter Reed (1851- 1902) an American army pathologist, who discovered that Yellow Fever, a massive killer, was spread by mosquitoes. This gripping narrative describes the world in which they lived and their moments of truth.
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