Dr. Lister vs. Hand-washing Hesitancy

*Dr. Joseph Lister did, in fact, encounter resistance and hesitancy as he shared his findings with the world. His introduction of antiseptic technique resulted in a tremendous drop in the risk of dying from surgery, but he faced skepticism both about his technique and about the broader foundations of germ theory in general. His initial choice of anti-septic, carbolic acid, would later be abandoned for substances less irritating to tissue, but the principle of preventing infection would stand.

The story of Lister is a reminder that hesitancy and skepticism are a part of the birth of every new technology, and are, in part, a healthy part of scientific rigor and growth. New technology will always need refinement and ongoing study. Nonetheless, antiseptic techniques have saved countless lives and enabled ongoing advancement in surgery and medicine. Our vaccines will undoubtedly be improved upon in years to come, but have the potential to save thousands of lives as we make our way through this current crisis. Stay well and get a vaccine if you can!!!

-N. Gray, MD

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