Name 5 (or so) important events in the history of medicine in the last 150 years.

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In the early 1800s, hospitals were squalid pits of disease where patients were as likely to die as to be cured. Yet the work of one woman brought about a dramatic change. Florence Nightingale was born to a wealthy family in 1820. But she did not want to lead an idle, pointless life. Instead, she decided to work with the sick, although at that time, many hospitals were sordid, rowdy places. In 1852, after a lot of arguments, her father allowed her to train in a hospital in Germany. In 1853, Nightingale took over a run-down hospital in London and made it run cleanly and efficiently. Civilian hospitals were almost as dirty as military ones, while the untrained nurses had a reputation for being lazy, careless and often drunk. But Nightingale soon changed all that. She hounded politicians to make improvements and wrote books on the best way to organize hospitals. She also used all the money she'd been given to set up the Nightingale School for Nurses in London. Soon, all nurses were highly qualified. By her death in 1910, Florence Nightingale had created a revolution in hospital care. At last, nurses and patients were treated with respect, and the foul, filthy conditions of hospitals had faded into history. Because of Florence Nightingale nurses were now properly trained and the sanitary conditions in hospitals were much more improved- thousands of lives were saved because of it. Now scientists could study what really caused disease without the interference of all the germs.

Robert Koch was a German doctor and scientist. He was convinced that microbes caused human disease but he did not believe that any one identifiable germ caused a particular disease in human beings. The important contribution that Koch made to the development of medicine was his method of staining the germs with methyl violet dye to make it visible. Now that scientists could see the germs that were causing disease they could think of ways to combat them.

In the 1850s scientists knew that living things, which we now call bacteria, were present in diseased parts of the body - we saw them under our microscopes. But they didn't know that some of them actually cause illness. They thought that bacteria must be produced as diseased parts of the body started to decay. This idea was called the Theory of Spontaneous Generation, in which rotting flesh made new life forms. But after Louis Pasteur began his experiments, he realized that they'd got the story the wrong way round. The bacteria come from outside the body, and by attacking it in vast numbers they cause it to decay. At the time Pasteur had been studying wine to learn why it goes bad. With his microscope he could see millions of bacteria living in the bad wine. However, if he heated the wine up, the bacteria were killed. He also found that this same wine stayed free of bacteria as long as it was kept in a sealed container. But once he took the lid off, living bacteria reappeared and wine went bad. He guessed that the bacteria made the wine bad, and that they came from the air itself. Pasteur had to try several experiments in order to prove to other scientists that airborne bacteria make things go bad. Pasteur's discovery that tiny organisms- bacteria caused disease was extremely significant. Now that people knew what caused diseases they could then look for ways to protect themselves against it. Because of his discovery of how bacteria work he and many others could now develop vaccines that would save millions of lives. Some vaccines developed were: 1885 Pasteur developed a vaccine for rabies. In 1937 the yellow fever vaccine was developed by Max Theiler. In 1956 BCG vaccine against tuberculosis is found effective. In 1957 Albert Sabin develops a live polo vaccine.

In 1844 a dentist named Horace Wells saw a showman demonstrating the effects of laughing gas (nitrous oxide). He decided to try it as an anaesthetic the next time he had a tooth taken out. He found it worked, but at a public demonstration...
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