How did the development of germ theory influence the history of medicine?
Germ theory in medicine was the conclusive demonstration that diseases and infections of surgical wounds were caused by minute living organisms that are only visible under high microscopic magnification. These tiny microorganisms are categorized under bacterial, viral, and fungal. The germ theory was perhaps the overarching finding in medicine between the 19th and the 20th century and undeniably the most remarkable. Most of the credit is primarily given to English surgeon Joseph Lister and German physician Robert Koch.
The development of the germ theory transformed the field of medicine in unprecedented ways. No other discovery had a greater impact on human nature and societies like the germ theory. It ushered in a completely new era where humans could be free from diseases and infections. It simplified the previously complexified pathology of diseases to the simple interaction between the microorganisms and the body. The germ theory gave insight into the earlier understanding that health and disease occurrence was linked to environmental influences, climate changes, ventilation, diet, among other factors.
Because of the science of germ theory, new health proponents, including hygiene and sanitation, proved factual. The integration of the germ theory science with the laboratory brought about dramatic improvements in medical research and practice and boosted physicians’ social status in an era filled with skepticism around traditional medical practices.
Compare and contrast three significant pharmaceutical or technological discoveries in the history of medicine.
There are so many Other pharmaceutical or technological discoveries in the history of medicine. Other major discoveries besides the germ theory include medical imaging, penicillin, and organ transplant.
The technology of medical imaging was discovered in 1895, with the first imaging machine being X-rays. Wilhelm Conrad, a German physicist, accidentally discovered X-ray in the process of experimenting with electrical currents through glass cathode-ray tubes. X-ray transformed medicine overnight, and Glasgow later founded the first radiology in the year that followed. Other imaging technologies that followed were Ultrasound in 1955, MRI in 1973, and many more.
Penicillin was the first antibiotic in the history of medicine. It was discovered by Alexander Fleming, a Scottish biologist, in 1928 and played a major role in winning the fight against the deadly bacteria. Fleming also accidentally discovered penicillin as “mold” in a petri dish. To date, penicillin is a commonly used anti-bacteria even though certain bacterium have increasingly evolved to become highly resistant to antibiotics.
Organ transplant was a later procedural discovery in medicine. The first successful organ transplant occurred was a kidney transplant completed by Dr. Hume and Dr. Murray in Boston In the United States. There had been previous organ transplants before but had been unsuccessful. Many more successful transplants were carried out in the years that followed, including a lung transplant in 1963, a liver and heart transplant in 1967, a hand transplant in 1998, and the most recent full-face transplant in2010. Transplant procedures have and continue to be used to save thousands of lives to date.
Cabrera-Perez, J., Badovinac, V.P. and Griffith, T.S., 2017. Enteric immunity, the gut microbiome, and sepsis: Rethinking the germ theory of disease. Experimental Biology and Medicine, 242(2), pp.127-139.
Erickson, B.J., Korfiatis, P., Akkus, Z. and Kline, T.L., 2017. Machine learning for medical imaging. Radiographics, 37(2), pp.505-515.
Gaynes, R., 2017. The discovery of penicillin—new insights after more than 75 years of clinical use. Emerging infectious diseases, 23(5), p.849.