William Halsted 1852-1922
William S. Halsted was born in New York City. Halsted was educated at home by tutors until 1862, when he was sent to boarding school in Monson, Massachusetts.
At Yale, Halsted was captain of the football team, played baseball and rowed crew. Upon graduation from Yale in 1874, Halsted entered Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. He graduated in 1877 with a Doctor of Medicine degree. Though raised a Presbyterian, Halsted was an agnostic by adulthood. 203
Most in theatre know of Halsted for his artery forceps, but his major achievement was to introduce new preventative methods such as rubber gloves into operating practice in 1890.
A scrub nurse by the name of Caroline Hampton developed a serious form of dermatitis, which was in part due to the cleaning solutions they used. Initially these gloves were to protect Caroline Hampton (his future wife) but it was found that the use of gloves reduced the incidence of infection.
The Goodyear tyre company made the first surgical gloves, which differed from others in that they were thin. Eye surgeons continued however not to use gloves up until the 1970s when supersensitive gloves were developed.
Because of the success of the rubber gloves, it stimulated him to make asepsis his main concern. He was methodical in the sterilization of all medical equipment. William Halsted went on to develop surgical gowns and hats.
In 1886, Halsted after experimenting with cocaine for use with eye surgery became addicted, and this caused his surgical abilities to become dangerously unreliable, and his medical career was nearly destroyed by the time he was forced to leave New York City.
However he overcame this addiction and went on to become one of the founder professors of the Johns Hopkins Medical School.
"The public blabbers about preventative medicine, but will neither appreciate nor pay for it. You get paid for what" 204