Joseph Lister

(1827—1912) surgeon and founder of a system of antiseptic surgery

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The British surgeon who applied the discoveries of bacteriologists, notably Louis Pasteur, using a carbolic acid spray as an antiseptic to control bacterial infection in labor wards and operating rooms. While this was an inherently clumsy, less elegant approach to infection control than asepsis (i.e., hand-washing and sterilizing instruments advocated by Oliver Wendell Holmes and Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis), Lister's methods, unlike those of Holmes and Semmelweis, were widely adopted and led rapidly to a dramatic decline in the incidence of puerperal sepsis and fatal or serious postoperative wound infection.

Subjects: Science and Mathematics — Public Health and Epidemiology.

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