VIEW-13712 | Ward "O", General Hospital, Montreal, QC, 1914

Ward "O", General Hospital, Montreal, QC, 1914
Wm. Notman & Son
1914, 20th century
Silver salts on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
20 x 25 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Architecture (8646) , building (531) , Photograph (77678)
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Keys to History

In the last third of the 19th century, the medical monitoring of ward patients became systematic and structured. Nurses were required to see all cases, enquire about their condition and record any change in their symptoms.

Diagnosis was in the hands of the doctors, who took the patients' medical, social and family history and asked about lifestyle and diet. Depending on the case, they examined the tongue, eyes or ears. They checked the pulse for abnormalities - shallow, rapid, weak, bounding - took the temperature, percussed the chest or areas of the back, probed the abdomen and palpated specific spots. They might also order routine urine or swab tests.

This approach, similar to what we undergo in a doctor's office today, made the diagnoses more reliable. Unfortunately, the same was not true of the therapies, which more often relieved than cured.

  • What

    This photo illustrates everyday medical practice in a ward. The nurses are going about their work and a doctor, at left, is observing a patient in bed.

  • Where

    This ward was at the Montreal General Hospital. Adjustable beds like the one in the right foreground made patients more comfortable.

  • When

    By the early 1900s, general care was more continual and better organized. As well, patients were subject to stricter rules.

  • Who

    The hospital staff surrounding patients grew considerably in the early decades of the 20th century. Cleaning women, maintenance men, orderlies and graduate nurses came and went regularly in the public wards.