Civil War

Hospital

It's 1864, and you are a nurse in a Civil War hospital. Nearly every wounded soldier will develop an infection in their wound, and half of them will die from it. 

You have received a new medicine that prevents infection, but you have three doses and four patients. How do you decide who gets the medicine? 

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After the dilemma:

What really happened

     The Armory Square Hospital provided care to wounded soldiers from 1862-1865. It was located on the National Mall in Washington, DC, at the intersection now occupied by the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum. 

     Wound infection was common during the US Civil War. The "germ theory" of disease had not yet been established, and surgeons often operated with unwashed hands and dirty medical equipment. Even the smallest wound could develop a deadly infection.

     As the war continued to claim thousands of lives, doctors and nurses began to experiment with new methods to fight infection. In 1863, some doctors were injecting bromine into wounds, with positive results. 20 years later, doctors began to understand that invisible micro-organisms were responsible for infection, and wound care greatly improved. 

Sources

http://www.pbs.org/mercy-street/uncover-history/behind-lens/wound-infection/

http://www.pbs.org/mercy-street/uncover-history/behind-lens/nursing-civil-war/

Keywords

Civil War, Hospital, Nursing, Medicine, Washington DC

 

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© 2019 Chris Seeger