An operation in the early 1800s was a terrifying gamble and risk. A common procedure was amputation of an arm or a leg. When the operator did his job, it was important to have some strong men who could hold the patient down in a firm grip. Of course, everyone wanted the operation to go fast, so it was said that a good surgeon was equal to a fast surgeon. The most skilled surgeon could execute an operation in just a few minutes! Naturally, healthcare has evolved a lot since then and improved dramatically. In the recent decades, healthcare has gotten more and more digitized.
Let’s have a look at some of the most important feats, innovations, and improvements of the healthcare industry throughout the centuries.
Before the early 1800s, anesthetics were available, although not very effective. The most common was liquor, but toxic fumes (which also made the surgeon dizzy!) also occurred. The oldest painkiller (early 1800s) still in use today is opium, from which morphine was extracted a little later. But morphine not only made the patient calm and painless but also addictive.
Many became drug addicts after their hospital stays.
Therefore, the joy was great when a painkiller without an addictive effect was found. The agent, which came in the 1840s, was ether – a colorless liquid that was dripped on a cloth laid over the patient’s face.
In less than a minute, the patient had become numb and then felt nothing of the treatment. Anesthesia with ether was the most common anesthetic method for more than a hundred years.
The ever-improving anesthetics did relieve the patient of pain but instead increased the risk that he or she would die from the severe infections that resulted from major and more difficult procedures being performed. In just amputations, more than half of those treated died!
In the 1860s, knowledge about infections increased, after the French chemist Louis Pasteur discovered the decay process in organic liquids, such as wounds. One example is the British doctor who received the care of an eleven-year-old traffic-injured boy. On one leg, the bone protruded. The doctor put the boy’s bones in order and covered the wound with bandages soaked in carbolic acid, a liquid used against foul-smelling wastewater.
When the bandage was removed a few days later, a fine scab formed. Of the stinking was, as before, so common in wounds, there was not a trace. Apparently, something invisible and dangerous had been destroyed by the carbolic acid. Therefore, the doctor ordered that all surgeons wash their hands with carbolic acid before surgery.
The knowledge of blood groups gave safer operations
If the operation itself was successful, the patient often died of blood loss instead. Blood transfusions had been tried as early as the 17th century. But at the time, it was an extremely risky business because no one knew anything about blood types. If you were lucky, the recipient’s body “approved” the donor’s blood. If not, the new blood was a deadly poison.
From the beginning of the 20th century, researchers knew more, and since the 1940s, when blood transfusions became everyday work, most hospitals have “blood banks” available. But blood can only be stored for a couple of weeks without being deteriorated, so hospitals constantly need people who can donate blood.
Rejection risk during transplantation
Vital organs, such as the kidneys, can stop working for various reasons. If both are problematic, the blood must be mechanically purified or replaced with a healthy kidney. In organ transplantation, not only the blood group between donor and recipient must match, but also the type of tissue, ie the cells that make up the organ. Otherwise, the recipient’s body repels the foreign organ.
The only ones that have exactly the same tissue type are identical twins. Therefore, the first kidney transplant took place between identical twins, in England in 1954. When doctors in the 1960s learned to prevent rejection with the help of medicines, kidneys and other organs could also be transplanted between people who were not identical twins.
“Drip” has saved the lives of many
In the next few days after, for example, a stomach operation, it is common for the patient to neither be able to eat nor drink, a situation that in life was life-threatening, even if the operation itself went well. As early as the beginning of the 20th century, the life-saving medical care known as fluid therapy was developed. From a container, the patient received salt and water straight into a vein via a tube and a needle. Since the 1950s, a person receives, when needed, not only salt and water but also all the necessary nutrients via ”drip”.
In the past, almost no doctor sought help without real pain or other major ailments. If a person still went to the doctor, he could listen or knock on the outside, without opportunities to study the patient’s body inside.
Just before Christmas 1895, everything changed, when the German researcher Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen for the first time tested the strange rays he had just discovered. The guinea pig was his own wife Berta, who was horrified when she suddenly saw her own skeleton! Since that day, X-ray diagnostics have improved. Today, magnetic cameras are often used to avoid exposing patients to dangerous X-rays.
Stem cell research – promising but controversial future issue
When the pancreas stops producing insulin, the hormone must be supplied to the body from the outside with tablets or syringes, or shots – a lifelong and cumbersome procedure you want to avoid. Getting the pancreas to make insulin again is a possibility that has increased through today’s so-called stem cell research. Stem cells are immature cells that can develop to form different kinds of tissues and organs in the body.
To further streamline and improve the healthcare industry many new innovations have been introduced to the healthcare industry in recent time. One of which includes eias, ERAS® Interactive Audit System which has been developed based on the published guidelines for best practice from the ERAS® Society.
”The EIAS allows the hospital staff to track the adherence to the ERAS® Society published guidelines as well as analyze the connection between compliance and outcomes to continuously improve the care process in the hospital before, during and after surgery.”