Doctor, what’s in your bag?

The Black Medical Bag

Doctor's bag circa 1911

Hello Explorers!

Have you ever wondered what’s in those medical bags? I found one at the flea market and it’s perfect for holding all my exploring equipment. The black leather doctor’s bag became a symbol of the community doctor making house calls. Medical advances, in the 19th century, provided better ways for doctors to diagnose their patients.

Discovery of Ancient Medical Tool Kits in Egypt and Under the Sea

The first glimpse of a medical kit is shown in wall paintings in the Temple of Kom Ombo in Egypt.

Detailed carvings of medical equipment (circa 180-30 bc)

Detailed carvings of medical equipment (circa 180-30 bc)

A 2,000 year old shipwreck was discovered off the Italian coast containing a medicine chest.

Incredible Find!

Incredible Find!

Packed with Essentials

The black leather doctor’s bag, from the early 1900’s, had compartments to carry instruments and drugs.

Dr. John Hill Abram's Bag (London Science Museum)

Dr. John Hill Abram’s Bag (London Science Museum)

During this era, a patient’s life expectancy was shortened (around age 50) because of infectious diseases and tuberculosis. Doctors served large rural areas and provided care to the entire family. Let’s open the bag and see what’s inside:

* Thermometer
* Stethescope
* Mercury Sphygmomanometer (a pressure gauge for measuring blood pressure)
* Tongue depressor
* Otoscope (check the ears)
* Optholmoscope (check the eyes)
* Hemoglobinometer (measures the hemoglobin in the blood to determine anemia and loss of blood)
* Urinometer (measures specific gravity which is an important indicator of kidney failure)
* Spirit lamp (assures aseptic technique by sterilizing needles and scalpels)

It’s All In The Bag

As the U.S. population ages, the demand for doctors to make house calls will increase. The style of bag may vary, but the necessary equipment has not changed much. The blood pressure cuff replaced the mercury sphygmomanometer and a spirit lamp, for sterilizing, is no longer necessary because of disposable needles and scalpels. Disposable dipsticks are used for urinalysis. Prescriptions are written for medications.

Life Saving Carry Out!
The combination of medical equipment, medicines, and the doctor’s diagnostic skill can provide relief from suffering and possibly mean the difference between life and death.

Explorer!

Do you want to know what’s in my bag? Details coming up next week!

Thanks for stopping by.

Just wild about the wilderness,

Robin Bird Explorer