Coming Soon!
Medical Firsts
Innovations and Milestones That Changed the World
by Tish Davidson
June 2023, 219pp, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
1 volume, Greenwood

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-7733-9
$69, £54, 60€, A95
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-7734-6
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Many medical milestones happened earlier than people think. For example, the first successful open-heart surgery was performed in a Chicago hospital in 1893 by an African American doctor.

Profiling 60 medical milestones, this book highlights the people and stories behind these key moments while also exploring their historical context and enduring legacy.

We take many modern medical devices and techniques for granted, but everything from hypodermic needles and baby incubators to organ transplants, antibiotics, and hearing aids began simply as ideas in someone’s mind. And while such concepts as formal medical education, methodical clinical trials, and universal healthcare may seem commonplace today, this wasn’t always the case. Some of these innovations and milestones met with resistance from society and medical professionals, while others were embraced almost overnight.

Medical Firsts: Innovations and Milestones That Changed the World profiles more than 50 turning points in the history of medicine, spanning from the 11th through 21st centuries. The book also highlights key trailblazers, such as the first American dentist, first microbiologist, and first woman to win the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Each entry begins with a description of how the first came to be, followed by discussion of the historical context in which it emerged and its enduring impact. Sources for further information are provided at the end of each entry and serve as a gateway to further study.


  • Highlights medical firsts from a variety of fields and specialties, including surgery, obstetrics, genetics, and medical education
  • Humanizes the history of medicine by providing the story behind the person or team at the heart of each innovation or milestone
  • Explains the social and scientific climate in which each medical innovation first occurred
  • Shows the effects each innovation or milestone has had on medicine today
Tish Davidson, AM, is a medical writer specializing in making technical information accessible to a general readership. She is the author of Greenwood's Vaccines: History, Science, and Issues; The Vaccine Debate; What You Need to Know about Diabetes; and Hormones: Your Questions Answered. Davidson is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors.
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