Surgery: Under the Microscope
“The Butchering Art” by Lindsey Fitzharris offers an in-depth and, shall we say, colorful look at the primitive days of surgery and healthcare. When it comes to the understanding of human health and the delivery of care, we should all be thankful to be alive in 2020 and not 170 years ago. One example: In the mid-19th century, patients judged the quality of a surgeon not by infection rates, patient recovery time or patient satisfaction but instead by the speed with which said surgeon could complete the procedure. (These were the days before the discovery of anesthesia. Yikes!)
Those were different times, no doubt, but not as different as we might think or wish.
Take these lines, from which I have temporarily removed a few key words (I’ll explain below):
“Many of Lister’s instructors still believed _____________ was not only superfluous…but also a threat to the medical establishment itself.”
“What revelation did _____________ offer?”
“Unless _____________ offered clear benefits that were applicable to the practice of medicine…most concluded that there was no reason to waste time with it.”
Any guess as to which medical breakthrough many physicians at the time doubted?
The answer and the term to fill in the blanks above: “the microscope”.
Incredibly, scientists of those days failed to recognize the potential value to human health in being able to more closely examine tissues. Perhaps even more mind-boggling, this exact debate has played out time and again over the last two centuries and continues to this day. One need only change the medical innovation in question.
Try re-reading the passages above, but this time insert “antibiotics” or “MRI” into the blanks. Now try “the surgical robot” and “Enhanced Recovery After Surgery”.
What has changed over time is our ability to be aware of medical advancements, even outside of the operating suite or clinic. Being aware is one thing. Being able to find a physician practicing with the latest clinically-supported advances and advocate for yourself in receiving cutting-edge care? That’s another thing entirely.
While 1850’s patients were ill-equipped to specifically seek out those physicians who had adopted microscopes as helpful to the practice of medicine, you as a 21st Century patient can find physicians who have adopted current-day best practices.
In surgery, those advances are minimally-invasive procedures, often robotic-assisted, and care delivered according to Enhanced Recovery After Surgery pathways. And that’s exactly what we at Goldfinch are here to help you find.
The 21st Century version of surgery. Microscopes included.