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June 13, 1891

WHEN IS ANTISEPSIS A FAILURE?Read by Title in the Section of Obstetrics and Diseases of Women, at the Forty-second Annual Meeting of the American Medical Association, held at Washington, D. C., May 5-8, 1891.

Author Affiliations


JAMA. 1891;XVI(24):844-846. doi:10.1001/jama.1891.02410760016001d

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Outside of a comparatively small circle of surgeons there are heard from time to time suggestions, which occasionally appear in print, that the system of "Listerism," so-called, is a failure. Strange as it may seem, it is not very uncommon to hear some one say that in a given case "every antiseptic precaution" was adopted, but the result was bad. The speaker would have you believe that he had done his part and that the system was at fault.

Now, it is worth while to consider briefly where the difficulty lies; and without entering the discussion of asepsis as opposed to antisepsis—absence of dirt versus sterilization of dirt,—without advocating special methods or dressings, attention may be drawn to practical difficulties which lead to misunderstanding.

A few men, like Mr. Tait, vigorously attack the theory of Listerism, while they themselves carry out the principles underlying its success. The reputation of Mr.

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