The Virtual Doctor is In
August 3, 2016
Triage Me
August 3, 2016

Not So Modern Medicine

“If you don’t know where you’re coming from, you don’t know where you’re going.” – Dr. Bert J. (Hans) Davidson, M.D., Ph.D.

PHOTOS: Courtesy of the Southern California Medical Museum


Screen Shot 2016-07-28 at 2.44.17 PM


While our Top Doctors issue highlights the region’s top medical talent, it also focuses on the great strides being made in the quality and delivery of the care we receive. However, a look back at some of the surgical implements and techniques of the past reveals just how far the practice of medicine, and the definition of quality care, has come.

At the Southern California Medical Museum, they’ve made it their mission to preserve medical instruments of the past (some dating back centuries). For information on these medical artifacts and procedures, we picked the brain of Dr. Bert J. (Hans) Davidson M.D., Ph.D., director of the Southern California Medical Museum, who was kind enough to share his expertise on the medical instruments below.

Amputation Kit

Amputations were a last resort and few doctors had any experience in the procedures. Early amputation was the accepted medical treatment for contaminated wounds with extensive damage or bone involvement. The risk in these injuries was gangrene, a progressive wound infection that would usually lead to the death of the patient without amputation. Anesthetics [such as chloroform and ether] rendered the patients unconscious. Screen Shot 2016-07-28 at 2.44.33 PMThe surgeon had to operate quickly, usually in less than 15 minutes. Secondary hemorrhage was common and lethal.


To the left, we see three 19th century monaural (for one ear) stethoscopes, made of wood and ivory. The long one is called a “pauper” stethoscope, allowing the doctor to be further from the patient. The one to the far left is a pocket stethoscope that can be taken apart to be flat. On the bottom is the first binaural (for both ears) instrument. In the middle is a boxed French stethoscope for babies. It has two ways of listening to the heart and lungs, the “bell,” like all stethoscopes until that time, but also a membrane. Modern stethoscopes are all based on that design; there are electronic ones, but almost all doctors and nurses use a model that has not changed much for over the years.”

For more information on the Southern California Medical Museum, visit


Comments are closed.

Photos from our Top Attorneys Celebration are now up on our Facebook page! 🎉 Thank you to our sponsors, Girardi Keese and BMW of Monrovia, and everyone who attended!Meet the Power Players of Pasadena in our latest issue! Out now! ⚡️Ready for summer in Pasadena?  Passes for @arroyosecowknd are on sale now! 🌳🌞Happy International Women’s Day from Pasadena Magazine! 💛 Celebrating all the women in our community and beyond today!
pasadenamag on Twitter
8,403 people follow pasadenamag
Twitter Pic Glendale Twitter Pic davidkli Twitter Pic hes_en_f Twitter Pic jefferso Twitter Pic ADavidre Twitter Pic DigAlert Twitter Pic dtoth170 Twitter Pic jeffali