The Impact of the Laboratory on Nineteenth-Century Medicine? Essay

The Impact of the Laboratory on Nineteenth-Century Medicine? Essay

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The laboratory had an influential impact on nineteenth century medicine. It saw technological advances such as the microscope allowing the observation of cells and micro-organisms and the way minute cells were formed and appeared. The practice of medicine allowed hospitals to seek advice and improve diagnosis by the study of body parts and the workings of the body such as the study and discovery of the digestive system. Education was progressed with students having to pass laboratory tests before attending hospitals for clinical training in many parts of Europe by the end of the nineteenth century. What the period saw was grace to an abundance and change from theory to fact through careful observation and experiment.
The practice of medicine was fundamentally changed by the laboratory in the nineteenth century. The use of the laboratory allowed practitioners to provide precise diagnosis and treatment in areas such as bacteriology. Louis Pasteur of France injected animals with a weak strain of a bacterium of a disease and created vaccinations from his studies in the laboratory and tests on animals showed positive results. The experimentation of animals was the only time a physician could “…achieve true medical science’ (Source Book 2, p.68) remarked physiologist Claude Bernard in an 1865 essay. Even though Pasteur researched rare diseases such as anthrax he paved the way for physicians such as Robert Koch who discovered the bacteria of tuberculosis which in this period was a major killer of the period. These discoveries lead to tests of tuberculosis vaccine therapies and allowing treatment of the disease. The creation of these vaccines to aid the practice of physicians was greatly ameliorated by the study of microorganisms causing...

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...y in Europe 1800-1930: A Source Book, Manchester: Manchester University Press, extract 4.4, pp.81-85
• Brunton, D. (ed) (2004), Health, Disease and Society in Europe 1800-1930: A Source Book, Manchester: Manchester University Press, extract 4.5, pp.85-89
• Jacyna, LS. (2004) ‘The Localization of Disease’, in Brunton, D. (ed.) Medicine Transformed: Health, Disease and Society in Europe 1800-1930, Manchester: Manchester University Press, pp.1-30.
• Mommd: Connecting Women in Medicine (2012), ‘Looking back over the history of women in medicine’, available from (Accessed 29th February 2012)
• Porter, R. (1999) The Greatest Benefit to Mankind: A Medical History of Humanity from Antiquity to the Present, London: Fontana Press, pp380-582.
• The Open University (2004), A218 Plate Book for Book 2, Milton Keynes, The Open University

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