How Did This Surgeon Kill 3 People In 1 Operation?

[Music] robert liston the surgeon with a 300 mortality rate robert liston was an abrasive man but an extraordinary surgeon accomplishing some astonishing records in his lifetime at just 14 years old he started his medical education in edinburgh and by age 22 he was teaching anatomy there alongside some of the greatest surgeons of his time liston didn’t just piggyback off the successes of his colleagues despite being described as insensitive and argumentative he gained an impressive reputation as a highly skilled surgeon earning him the title of the fastest knife in the west end from medical historian dr richard gordon certainly speed was one of liston’s special talents before each amputation he would call out timely gentleman time mate prompting his devoted students to pull out their pocket watches in anticipation of his first move his fastest time recorded was 25 seconds a tremendous feat speed was particularly important during the early 19th century when liston was operating as longer surgeries meant higher mortality rates not only were patients operated on without anesthetic but blood loss could be fatal on top of this little was known about germs at the time so the risk of infection was high despite these circumstances liston’s amputations had a remarkably low mortality rate of just 15 percent this compared to another surgeon at the nearby saint bartholomew’s hospital whose amputations killed around 25 percent of patients liston’s stature also played a part in his reputation towering at six feet two inches tall he was strong enough to only need one assistant to help hold a patient’s leg during an amputation he sneered at surgeons who used many instruments in their surgeries preferring to use his own hands to hold flaps and clamp arteries as unsettling as that may seem now these are the things that generated such a high demand for his services particularly in a time of primitive medical technology before working at the royal infirmary of edinburgh in an official capacity he would operate out of patients homes taking on cases that other physicians had given up on surgeons traveled across the country to watch his work and patients even camped outside of his waiting room for days in the hopes of obtaining his services so how did this man a world-renowned doctor at the cutting edge of 19th century medicine come to be the only surgeon with a 300 mortality rate the statistic is taken from one of his surgeries which began much like any other day for liston at london’s university college hospital where liston had been banished after falling out with the more traditional practitioners in edinburgh a crowd filled the operating room as always there was a sizable audience spectators eager to watch a leg amputation by the famous listen needing someone to help manage the awake patient liston pulled in a student volunteer to hold the leg that was to be amputated from this moment things went quickly downhill cutting through flesh and bone liston carried out his usual technique completing the amputation in a respectable 2 minutes and 30 seconds unfortunately in his haste liston was unaware that as well as amputating the patient’s limb he was removing two of his students fingers both men were now bleeding profusely and susceptible to infection somehow things managed to get even worse wielding his knife with a characteristic flourish liston also proceeded to slice through the coattails of a senior surgeon who was standing nearby in order to watch the procedure although he didn’t physically wound the observer he did go into a panicked state of shock fearing that he had been stabbed within two days the patient and assistant succumbed to gangrene in the hospital ward meanwhile the traumatized observer was later discovered to have died from shock reluctant to admit his mistakes liston continued operating as a respected surgeon until he died himself in 1847 having published a number of path-breaking medical texts listed as also credited with revolutionizing surgical medicine through his invention of the bulldog forceps and the so-called listen splint therefore despite killing triple the number of people he had promised to save that day liston left behind a legacy that far overshadows the infamously disastrous surgery which remains the only single patient operation in history with a 300 percent mortality rate
Video source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ocx_mELSCfM

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