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Medical advances during the civil war
Transcript of Medical advances during the civil war
The Civil War is remembered as the bloodiest war in history and the war that freed many African American slaves. What many people do not realize is that the Civil War started a whole new era of medicine. Though it may not seem like medicine was as important as the soldiers fighting the war, it was, and over the course of the war doctors gained more knowledge and discovered new techniques that changed medicine as we know it.
During the Civil War the Union was having a tough time getting a hold of anesthesia, a medicine used during surgery that made a patient unaware of what the doctor was doing to them. So, a Union doctor by the name of Julian Chrisolm invented the anesthesia inhaler. In this new devise "Chloroform was dripped through a perforated circle on the side onto a sponge in the interior; as the patient inhaled through tubes, the vapors mixed with air". With the inhaler doctors could use 2.5 times less anesthesia than usual.
Over all, the Civil War made a huge impact on medicine and how it is practiced. To this day, we still use some of the techniques doctors used during the Civil War, just with more experience and knowledge. As a country we have improved leaps and bounds on medicine and continue to do so.
Prior to the war both armies started gathering a unit of ambulances, or wagons pulled by horses, and a crew of emergency medical technicians(EMT). This unit was in charge of gathering all wounded soldiers from the battle field. This was a quick and easy way to get soldiers to the surgery or the care unit.
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Two thirds of the deaths during the war were caused by diseases such as typhoid fever, diarrhea, and dysentery. Few doctors knew how cleanliness and infection were related, and sterilization of their instruments was not common practice. In fact, due to a shortage of water during the Civil War, doctors rarely even washed them. This transmitted diseases very easily and quickly which lead to many soldiers deaths. As the war went on many doctors became aware of bacteria and how it spread.
During the Civil War antibiotics did not exist. Thankfully, while performing amputations doctors did have chloroform and ether. Sadly, these powerful anesthetics did not help with treating a wound or disease.