To evaluate the significance of Joseph Lister’s work, you would have to consider that between fifty and eighty percent of surgical patients died prior to the development of proper sterilization techniques before and after surgical procedures. Through his work, Lister proved that unseen organisms, bacteria, were causing infections that killed people after undergoing surgery. He determined that cleanliness was of the utmost importance to the successful outcome of surgery. He applied the use of carbolic acid to clean the operating room, including the air, the surgical dressings, and the patient. In addition, he determined that if he worked with clean hands, instruments, and clothing, the spread of infection was reduced and surgical success increased. After he instituted these methods, infections after surgery in his hospital were reduced significantly. Although his methods were impressive, it took more than ten years for them to be put into practice throughout Europe. His findings were published in The Lancet in 1867.
Joseph Lister’s findings and procedures are important in contemporary operating rooms on a daily basis. Therefore, when evaluating Joseph Lister’s contributions, it is important to take into account the number of lives saved by the institution of sterile surgical procedures that continue to be perfected today.