Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 52.djvu/365

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
349
CARL LUDWIG AND CARL THIERSCH.

and his duties consisted merely in admitting students twice a week to his visits among the sick, and in winter demonstrating the most important operations on the cadaver. The faculty now in an entirely professional manner desired the government to provide clinical free beds, twenty medical and twenty surgical. To this request was added a list of suggestions for the organization of a course of instruction in clinical surgery, for the furnishing of a collection of instruments, and for a practical operative course.

The adoption of these recommendations of the faculty was the first decisive step toward a more perfect organization of surgical instruction; a second step was taken in 1841 through the appointment of Professor Günther, of Kiel, as professor of surgery and surgical demonstrator. Thus the existence of a regular surgical clinic in Leipsic dates back hardly fifty years. Even then the conditions of its existence were unfavorable enough, and hospital gangrene, in spite of the open-air barracks devised by Günther in the surgical department of the hospital, was a matter of inevitable recurrence. The surgical clinic only attained its full development a generation later, under Thiersch. It was also he who put an end to the unworthy subordination of the surgeons to the physicians.

Günther died in 1866, and after his death it is again a report from the pen of E. H. Weber which sets forth the point of view of the faculty. The first necessity seems to be now to provide a more suitably arranged hospital; the faculty therefore insists on the importance of appointing a man able to undertake the task of organizing its erection. This requirement was entirely fulfilled by the appointment of Thiersch in the following year, 1867.

At the time when the task of attending to the building of the new Jacob's Hospital with Wunderlich fell to Thiersch, the allied questions of surgical treatment and of hospital construction were undergoing a thorough revolution. As early as between 1850 and 1860 French physicians had recognized the mortifying fact that in English hospitals the number of successful operations was incalculably larger than in their own. The most careful examination of the conditions of both resulted only in the discovery of the far greater cleanliness and better ventilation of English institutions. Moreover, an English physician, Spencer Wells, had applied the principle of absolute cleanliness to operations in the abdominal cavity with startling success, thus making these previously almost necessarily fatal operations comparatively harmless. During the American civil war, important knowledge as to the best conditions for the treatment of wounds was gained. It was discovered that the wounded recovered most safely and rapidly in the airiest apartments, in lightly built barracks, or in open tents. Thiersch, with his keen insight, at once