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Joseph Lister is considered the father of modern antisepsis. Joseph Lister is known for improving the cleanliness of surgery so less bacteria could get into the patients body and kill them. He worked along James Syme at the University of Edinburgh. He married Syme’s daughter Agnes when he joined the Scotland Episcopal Church after he left the Quakers.


Joseph Lister reduced ‘ward fever’ at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary as he discovered that carbolic acid, swabbed on the wounds or dressings, reduced the bacteria getting into the wound and causing gangrene. Lister noticed that babies that were delivered by mid-wives were more likely to survive than babies that were surgically delivered because the mid-wives tended to wash there hands more often than the surgeons who would go from draining an abscess to delivering a baby.


Lister began to clean wounds and dress them using a solution of carbolic acid.He was able to announce at a British Medical Association meeting, in 1867, that his wards at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary had remained clear of sepsis for nine months.