Beginning in 1865, Lister used carbolic acid to wash his hands, his instruments, and the bandages used in the operation. Lister also sprayed the air with carbolic acid to kill airborne germs. After more than a year of using and refining these techniques, Lister had sufficient data to show that his methods were a success. He published his findings in the medical journal, The Lancet, in 1867.
In August 1865, Lister applied a piece of lint dipped in carbolic acid solution onto the wound of a seven-year-old boy at Glasgow Infirmary, who had sustained a compound fracture after a cart wheel had passed over his leg. After four days, he renewed the pad and discovered that no infection had developed, and after a total of six weeks he was amazed to discover that the boy’s bones had fused back together, without the danger of suppuration.
- Lister, Joseph (21 September 1867). “ON THE ANTISEPTIC PRINCIPLE IN THE PRACTICE OF SURGERY”. The Lancet. 90 (2299): 353–356. doi:10.1016/s0140-6736(02)51827-4
- Lister, Joseph (1 January 1870). “ON THE EFFECTS OF THE ANTISEPTIC SYSTEM OF TREATMENT UPON THE SALUBRITY OF A SURGICAL HOSPITAL”. The Lancet. 95 (2418): 2–4. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(02)31273-X
- Joseph Lister quoted in: J.H. Tiner, Louis Pasteur—Founder of Modern Medicine, Mott Media, Milford, Michigan, 1990, p. 111.