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"Medical Miracles in Scotland"

"Nothing exceeds halitosis as a social offense. Nothing equals Listerine® as a remedy." Such was the claim of a 1928 advertisement for Listerine ® mouthwash. Listerine® Antiseptic mouthwash, wasn't born in the bathroom, however, but in the operating room. Back in 1865, Dr. Joseph Lister, the son of a well-known physicist, first demonstrated the use of an antiseptic in surgery. Later, Dr. Joseph Lawrence refined his product and named it Listerine® after Dr. Lister. History is uncertain whether Lister appreciated the favour.

One hundred and thirty years ago, almost 50% of the patients undergoing major surgery died from infection. As the famous saying went, "The operation was a success, but the patient died." In the 1870's, Lister was the first to treat wounds with dressings soaked in carbolic acid. Lister, in agreement with Dr. Louis Pasteur, suggested surgeons wash their hands and sterilize their instruments before operating. After significant resistance, British and American hospitals gradually adopted the sterile procedures promoted by Lister. Lister and Pasteur were personal friends who supported each other when viciously attacked by the medical establishment. When Pasteur was publicly honoured at age 70 by his medical peers, he turned and bowed his head towards Lister, saying: "the future belongs to him who has done the most for suffering humanity."

Question: Why is Lister seen by many scientists as the greatest man of the 19th century? Click to find out...


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