Industrial Revolution


Let us define the timeline of the Industrial Revolution:

The Industrial Revolution' was a period from the 18th to the 19th century where major changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, and transport had a profound effect on the socioeconomic and cultural conditions starting in the United Kingdom, then subsequently spreading throughout Europe, North America, and eventually the world. The onset of the Industrial Revolution marked a major turning point in human history; almost every aspect of daily life was eventually influenced in some way.

By the 18th century, physicians started to use manual or mechanical techniques to diagnose patients and studying cadavers became more accepted as a medical practice. It was at this time when medicine slowly changed from the use of subjective evidence provided by the patient to objective evidence obtained by mechanical and chemical technology devices.
During this period, there are various advancements in Western Medicine.

By this time, physicians increasingly used machines for diagnosis or therapeutics. Among these technologies were the Hutchinson's device for measuring the vital capacity of lungs, the Herisson's sphygmomanometer for blood pressure measurement, the thermometer (1724) and the stethoscope (1816).

Although nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, had been proposed as an anaesthetic as far back as 1799 by Humphry Davy, it wasn't until 1846 when an American Dentist named William Morton started using ether on his patients that anaesthetics became common in the medical profession. In 1847 chloroform was introduced as an anaesthetic by James Young Simpson. Chloroform was favored by doctors and hospital staff because it's much less flammable than ether, but critics complained that it could cause the patient to have a heart attack. Chloroform gained in popularity in England and Germany after Dr. John Snow gave Queen Victoria chloroform for the birth of her eighth child (Prince Leopold). By 1920, chloroform was used in 80 to 95% of all narcoses performed in UK and German-speaking countries.

Anaesthetics made painless dentistry possible. At the same time the European diet grew a great deal sweeter as the use of sugar became more widespread. As a result, more and more people were having teeth pulled and needed replacements. This gave rise to "Waterloo Teeth", which were real human teeth set into hand-carved chunks of ivory from hippopotamus or walrus jaws. The teeth were obtained from executed criminals, victims of battlefields, from grave-robbers, and were even bought directly from the desperately impoverished.

Medicine also benefited from the introduction of antiseptics by Joseph Lister in 1867 in the form of Carbolic acid (phenol) He instructed the hospital staff to wear gloves and wash their hands, instruments, and dressings with a phenol solution and, in 1869, he invented a machine that would spray carbolic acid in the operating theatre during surgery.

Physicians in early 19th century mostly practiced general medicine, but development of specialities occured at a very fast rate. In 1930s, 1 out of every 4 doctors was a medical specialist. By 1980, 4 out of 5 doctors were specialists. More doctors became specialists because of the expanding knowledge required for diagnosis and treatments. Furthermore, medical machinery and equipment have become so complex and require specialized skills to operate. Private medical group and hospitals began to form as a result of more doctors becaming specialists.


Medical technology and specialization also increased the amount of data required to diagnose and treat patients. Medical records became an important document for retaining patient's information. This led to the need to organize and store medical data. By 1969, 80% of employees in the medical field were non-physicians. Technology also created a less face to face relationship between doctors and their patients.