The Skin of the Clinic, or, The Strange History of Medical Plastics
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The Skin of the Clinic, or, The Strange History of Medical Plastics

The Skin of the Clinic, or, The Strange History of Medical Plastics

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Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh

9 Queen St

Edinburgh, United Kingdom

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Speaker: Dr Sarah Hodges (University of Warwick)


Over the course of the twentieth century, medicine cleaned up. Since Joseph Lister's discoveries of the positive results of sterilisation, up until the latter half of last century, hospitals relied on scrubbing and laundering with soap, as well as other disinfectants. But by the 1980s, plastic solutions had come to dominate everyday clinical practices. Clean had become synonymous with disposable.

Though it is far from clear that this change was prompted by evidence, or that it produces more hygienic clinical surroundings, health care staff embraced pre-packaged single-use disposable plastic items and, in so doing, medicine came to produce more and more rubbish. In other words, cleaning up in one sense made more of a mess in the other. This talk will investigate this subject and ask, what accounts for this move to the disposable?


Refreshments at 4pm, seminar starts at 4.30pm.

This talk is part of the Edinburgh History of Medicine Group series, a collaboration between the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh and the University of Edinburgh.

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Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh

9 Queen St

Edinburgh, United Kingdom

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