Top 6 Medical Milestones


Over the years, important discoveries have been made which have revolutionised healthcare and made modern medicine as efficient, reliable and safe as it is now.

Here are six of the biggest medical milestones.

1. Sanitation

Perhaps one of the most famous stories in the history of medicine, in the 1800s infectious diseases were the norm and cholera outbreaks were becoming impossible to manage.

Other infections, such as tuberculosis, dysentery, diphtheria, typhoid, measles and smallpox were endemic to urban life.

Dr John Snow identified that managing the distribution of water around highly populated areas had an impact on the spread of these diseases. 

However, it was the lawyer, Edwin Chadwick who proposed the 1834 Poor Act which set a minimum standard of living for every member of society which would have the most drastic impact.

By the beginning of the 20th century, death rates had plummeted and sanitation was identified as the route cause of this improvement. 

Despite these findings being commonly accepted, there are still countries in which adequate, clean water isn't widely available and this is still having an impact on the health of their populations.

2. DNA

A relatively recent discovery in the medical profession, DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) was first researched in 1953 at the University of Cambridge.

The discovery and ability to read and investigate DNA has meant that children can be screened for genetic diseases before they are even born.

It has also led to an increased understanding of blood groups and an instant analysis of new infections, such as Sars. 

The effects of the discovery of DNA haven't yet been fully explored. The potential is huge and it is still a very active area of research. Nobody knows what could be achieved.  

3. Anaesthesia

There has always been a need to reduce the patient's pain during medical procedures. At one point, doctors had to rely on uncertain methods like alcohol or opiates which could cause further complications and do more damage. They were also not reliably effective.

In 1846, American dentist, William Morton introduced ether as an anaesthetic. But it wasn't until Englishman, Dr John Snow realised that there could be different levels of anaesthetic used in different circumstances that the practice really took off. 

The following year, Dr James Young Simpson from Scotland discovered the effects of chloroform, which soon replaced ether and led to a more widespread use of operations to treat conditions.

The introduction of anaesthesia is regarded as a key example of healthcare's efforts to alleviate human suffering.