Civil War Battlefield Medicine

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The Civil War: A Change in Battlefield Medicine Have you ever thought about when battlefield medicine became so efficient? The answer to this question is very surprising as well as interesting. Most people think of the Civil War as the era where many died sue to the unavailability of modern-day medical strategies. This is an accurate assumption, but there is also a little more to the story. Little do people know, the Civil War started a whole new era of medical tactics on the battlefield. In April of 1861 when the Civil War began, the medical field was very unsophisticated. Bacteriology was not yet discovered, and doctors were oblivious as to what caused the murderous diseases such as typhoid and dysentery that took the lives of many soldiers. …show more content…
The diets of soldiers were malnourishing, which did nothing to help the immune systems of the worn down soldiers. The use of sterile dressings, antiseptic surgery, or even sanitation and hygiene was unheard of. A capable surgeon could perform an amputation in approximately ten minutes. The circumstances of these procedures were dangerous and unsanitary. The surgeons operated in coats stained with pus and blood while using bloody knives as scalpels and even fingers as probes. The lack of water, as well as time, meant there was no washing of the hands or instruments. The desperate times caused doctors to utilize houses, churches, schools, and even barns as surgery rooms.(Goellnitz.) Although doctors did everything they knew how to do, the medical practices just weren’t sufficient for the …show more content…
In present days, anesthesiology is a very complex, yet everyday practice for putting people under while they undergo a surgery. In the 1860s this practice had just been developed; therefore, the simplicity was very evident. The most common use of anesthesia was through the use of chloroform, which was used in 75% of all operations. A chloroform soaked cloth was held over a patient’s nose and mouth until the patient was unconscious. The surgeon would perform surgery with the patient still unconscious, and soon after the surgery the patient would regain consciousness. It was not as efficient as the way doctors now use anesthesiology, but it was still very efficient in regards to the time period and only had a mortality rate of 0.4%.

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