Medicine: Anesthesia During The Civil War

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Modern medicine was influenced by medical techniques used in the the battlefields of the civil war as techniques were so primitive that innovation became a necessity. As the amount of patients increased in the hospitals, doctors started re-using their materials. Doctors would tend to use the same scalpel or the same towel when he switched patients. The increase of infections was very common and doctors preferred to amputate soldier's limbs when they came into the hospital wounded. Amputations was one of the main surgeries that required anesthesia. During the Civil War anesthesia wasn't completely developed, the only types that were used were ether and chloroform. Ether and chloroform would sleep the patient so that they would wake up without …show more content…
For every soldier that died fighting in the battlefield, two died from diseases in the camps. When the Civil War began doctors were completely unprepared. They had only 2 years of training before they started treating patients. Their understanding of hygiene and bacteria was minimal. The battlefield hospitals had multiple things going against them, including the fact that they lived in filth. Garbage around the hospitals would pile up, the latrines would seep into the water supply and soldiers would get sick of it, and they were all lying too close to each other. Sicknesses, diseases, and insects would quickly spread around because all the soldiers were so close together. Soldiers would clean their lice-infested clothing in a pot full of boiling water in which they would later cook their food in. Diseases like dysentery, typhoid fever, delirium, and body lice transmitted diseases are some of the most common diseases that would infect the soldiers. Most of them come from the fact that hygiene was not important in the hospitals and doctors would not be careful with the person they are treating. During the Civil War doctors treated patients with methods that seem deplorable these days. One of the methods used was that doctors would collect pus from a soldier's wound and would transfer it to another soldier's open wounds. They believed that pus helped the wounds heal faster. Doctors would also use a combination of chalk and Mercury to treat closed bowels. Considering that Mercury is an extremely dangerous element, it doesn't seem very safe or hygienic. Doctors operated and a updated limbs with dirty tools that had been used on another solider and they were dressed in bloody

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