ALEXANDER GORDON (1752-1799). A treatise on the epidemic puerperal fever of Aberdeen. First Edition London: Printed for G.G. and J. Robinson., 1795.
In 1780, at the age of 28, with testimonial letters from the Corporation of Surgeons of London, Gordon entered the Royal Navy as a surgeon’s mate and advanced to the rank of surgeon. In 1785 Gordon returned to Aberdeen, gained an MD from Marischal College and entered general practice. He was appointed physician to the Aberdeen Dispensary.
During the next nine years there were 12,925 admissions for treatment at this institution. Gordon’s main interest was midwifery and obstetrics and, he regularly gave lectures on this subject to the University students. This treatise shows Gordon’s insights into the contagious nature of puerperal fever, its epidemiology, pathology and the means of prevention. Gordon was the first to advance as a definite hypothesis the contagious nature of puerperal fever, thus preceding Holmes and Semmelweis by half a century. He also advocated the disinfection of the clothes of the doctor and midwife.
Gordon’s work was written in 18th century Scots language and his discovery of hand hygiene in preventing childbed fever between mothers was only recently discovered.
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