These widespread practices in the Far West demonstrate how very wild the times were

Spectators during an operation

Surgery in the Far West must have been scary enough without needing a crowd of onlookers around. Some people did not hesitate to invade the operating rooms n order to see what a human body looked like from the inside. Today, we wouldn’t get much further than an operating room connecting door, and if we stayed too long, security would likely kick us out of the hospital. People in the Old West could walk into an operating room that wasn’t already sterile. It is understandable that people became infected due to entering this room wearing dirty shoes from outside.

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But it would appear that some people were just too curious to stay at home. One such case is described in American Heritage magazine when an unfortunate Colorado woman had to have a head tumor excised by Dr. Charles Gardiner. Much to Gardiner’s dismay, a man made his way into the operating room and recounted what he was seeing to the crowd gathered outside. This was very upsetting because the doctor was angry because he couldn’t concentrate well on the operation. Fortunately, this is no longer an option!

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