Cotton lint dressing possibly owned by Joseph Lister, c 1850-1912.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Joseph Lister (1827-1912) was the founder of antiseptic surgery. In 1860, Lister introduced the use of antiseptic conditions in operating areas, greatly reducing the risk of the patient's death from infection and blood poisoning following surgery. He discovered that carbolic acid, (which was already used for drain cleaning) could also kill the germs that caused infection in the human body, and stressed the importance of cleanliness during surgery.