Joseph Lister, British surgeon

Joseph Lister, British surgeon

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Credit: GARY BROWN/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Joseph Lister (1827-1912), British surgeon, with his carbolic acid antiseptic spray. Lister qualified as a surgeon in London in 1852. At that time surgery was usually followed by infection and high mortality rates. Lister, having read Pasteur's work on fermentation, realised that micro-organisms causing this could be killed with chemical compounds. Lister mainly used phenol solution (carbolic acid) and steam as his preferred antiseptics for dressing and instruments. Lister's procedures produced immediate improvements and were quickly adopted. Lister's numerous honours included baronet (1883), baron (1897) and membership of the Order of Merit (1902).

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