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Sepsis : the hundred years war.

  • Film

About this work

Also known as

Sepsis : 100 years war.


A film history of the struggle against infection after surgery. This is introduced by rostrum camera stills then, followed by a recreated sequence of Joseph Lister carrying out surgery including a time when the patient escaped from the operating theatre. The advent of anaesthesia revolutionised surgery, however, as the film goes onto articulate, there is still the scourge of sepsis or infection. Historical theories of infection are outlined including antiseptics. Asepsis is described and the story of how rubber gloves became adopted. There is a brief archive sequence of Alexander Fleming in colour smoking in his laboratory handling petri dishes. Sir Charles Illingworth and James Ross describe their first experience of antibiotics. The film describes the 'tragedy' of antibiotic usage; indiscriminate prophylactic use at low dosages. Surgeons, Mr Kennedy Browne and Mr David Rosin describe the decrease in efficacy of antibiotics. Professor Sidney Selwyn also contributes to this discussion. Staphylococcal infection in particular has risen through widespread use of broad spectrum antibiotics. Selwyn talks about drug resistant infections. Endotoxins are also outlined. There are surgical sequences throughout the film. Antiseptics and asepsis have returned in favour due to the 'casual' approach to infection in hospitals. In the closing sequences of the film, the opening historical sequences are revisited.



Physical description

1 film reel (23 mins.) : sound; colour

Copyright note

Geistlich Sons Ltd.


Some mold speckles present on the film prior to cleaning.
According to the director, this version may be incomplete and missing an extended opening sequence of Joseph Lister performing surgery.
The following archive sources are acknowledged: BMA Film Library, BBC Hulton Picture Library, Suddeutscher Verlag, Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives (Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions), Royal College of Surgeons of England.

Creator/production credits

Produced for Geistlich Sons Ltd by Little King Productions Ltd. Photography; Chris Connell. Sound; Bob Withey. Script; Ronald Bassett, Simon Nicholas, David Baxter. Editor; Simon Manley-Cooper. Directed by Simon Nicholas.



  • English

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