Special Report

What a Hospital Looked Like 100 Years Ago

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11. Little X-ray protection

There was little protection during X-ray procedures in the early part of the 20th century.

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12. Operations in street clothes

Even though doctors understood the importance of cleanliness during an operation, many performed procedures in their street clothes and an apron.

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13. Few babies born in hospitals

Most babies were born at home 100 years ago and delivered with the aid of a midwife or doctor. The first “maternity hospital” opened in 1914.

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14. Elderly cared for at home

When the elderly got sick they were cared for at home by their families instead of in hospitals.

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15. Sterilization standards lower

Doctors would scrub their hands before a procedure, but they did not wear rubber gloves. Surgical masks were not worn. Surgical instruments were cleaned in boiling water, which killed most germs, but might have left some spores. Today, hospitals sterilize instruments through a process called autoclaving (saturated steam under high pressure) that eradicates microorganisms and spores.