Blood-letting is normally associated with much of the first half of the 19th century.  It may even be assumed every now and then that bleeding a patient was something no longer practies once the Civil War ended.  The general impression historians gave us about this war is that better methods for performing surgery were developed, adequate sanitation of living quarters was becoming the standard, and the use of antibacterial or antigerm formulas were developed as a part of the surgical process.

In spite of all of these accomplishments the Civil War gave medicine, the practice of bleeding was now reachings its maturity.  A number of methods for bleeding patients were developed, including the use of  a German made contraption that was spring operated that moves the fine sharp tipped pieces of metal arranged in a circle or dome in order to engage in dozens of small blood-letting activities–this device and its process were termed Baunscheitismus.

Professor T. Whatron Jone’s article called “Clinical Lecture on Blood-letting” (The Lancet, Nov. 2, 1878, pp. 613-615) provides us with the philosophy for bleeding patients believed in during the last quarter of the nineteenth century.  Aside from lancets and the German contraption mentioned above there was the Leech therapy now being promoted, a seemingly less aggressive means than letting blood into a metal container from a sick or ill patient.

Wharton’s article fills us in about the beliefs held just prior to the discovery of the germ theory for disease.  Exactly how and why physicians outgrew their faith in bleeding remains uncertain, and the exact year or date this practice ended is just as questionable.  Like any change in belief systems, it is up to the older generation to die off for some practiecs to finally end in most forms medicine.  Bleeding is one of those folklorish ways of treating disease that was still included in the bills entered into a doctor’s ledger.

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