From theatre to perioperative: A brief history of early surgical nursing
Journal of Perioperative Nursing
Perioperative nursing is believed to be the first specialisation to arise in nursing and tracing its beginnings is an interesting exercise. The scientific advances made during the latter part of the 19 th century resulted in increased numbers of patients in hospitals. Though previously shunned by all but the poorest, hospitals now provided an environment that was safer for surgery than a patient's home, and needed skilled nurses as a result. Florence Nightingale established a school of nursing
... n England teaching 'sanitary nursing' and ensuring probationary nurses knew about antiseptics and disinfectants. Ms Nightingale stated that it was the duty of every nurse on surgical wards to prevent infection, and until the end of the 19 th century the nurses who cared for surgical patients in the wards pre-and postoperatively also prepared for and assisted during surgery. However, in 1889* the first dedicated operating room nurse was employed in the USA, and thereafter the role of the theatre nurse became entrenched. That role has evolved significantly since then and continues to do so. Feature Author Dr Lois Hamlin DNurs, RN, FACN, FACORN * Note (May 2021): This was originally published incorrectly as 1899. ** An early caveat is that this article is not a systematic review and critical analysis on the topic, and is further constrained by the availability of appropriate sources, not all of which have been digitised. This is especially the situation regarding material from the latter half of the 19 th century and the first half of 20 th century.