Medical Advancements and Industrialization

October 1, 2011 | | Comments Off on Medical Advancements and Industrialization

Medicine has come a long way since the beginning of mankind, but the majority of modern advances started around the industrial revolution. Prior to the industrial revolution, doctors did not have a real answer concerning sickness and treatment. They used simple techniques to deal with illness such as induced vomiting, leeches, and prayer but these techniques were not enough and death rates were extremely high (between 1/3 and 1/5). Industrialization helped to fuel advacements in medicine, coming up with improved methods of prevetion and treatment.

With the invention of the steam engine, factories migrated and expanded, causing more people to move to cities for jobs. Populations grew rapidly, but so did the occurance of deadly infections of smallpox, cholera, tuberculosis, and typhoid. The cities were overcrowded with poor sanitation systems and a high poverty rate fed the diseases. Links were made between poverty and disease and in 1834 Parliament implimented the Poor Laws, which later led to the Public Health Act of 1848.

The institutionalization of health also helped to improve medicine and decrease death rates. The use of hospitals spread, allowing hospitalization for severe illness to become a common occurance. This allowed the sick to receive steadier care, proper medication, and lower the number of healthy people that were exposed to the illness. The developement of anesthesia coupled with better sanitary conditions allowed for the use of surgery, saving more lives.

Most of the information we use in medicine today came from this time period. Bacteria and organisms in diseases allowed doctors and scientists to better understand how and why people become sick, allowing for better prevention and treatment. The prestige of being a doctor also began during this time as doctors gained more respectability with more effective medical techniques.

Robinson, Bruce. “Victorian Medicine – From Fluke to Theory.” BBC History. BBC, 17 Feb 2011. Web. 1 Oct 2011. <http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/victorians/victorian_medicine_01.shtml#four>.

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