Nat Geo Explores: In the 19th Century, Going to the Doctor Could Kill You

Nat Geo Explores: In the 19th Century, Going to the Doctor Could Kill You

The American medical profession was largely unregulated and dangerous prior to the discovery of the germ in the 19th century. Sanitation was unsophisticated, corpses were handled near live patients, and some doctors wore bloody aprons as badges of honor. However, the discovery of germs revolutionized medicine, transforming it into the prestigious practice and field of study that we know today.


5 - 8


Biology, Health, Social Studies, World History

Media Credits

The audio, illustrations, photos, and videos are credited beneath the media asset, except for promotional images, which generally link to another page that contains the media credit. The Rights Holder for media is the person or group credited.

Web Producer
André Gabrielli, National Geographic Society
Last Updated

October 19, 2023

For information on user permissions, please read our Terms of Service. If you have questions about how to cite anything on our website in your project or classroom presentation, please contact your teacher. They will best know the preferred format. When you reach out to them, you will need the page title, URL, and the date you accessed the resource.


If a media asset is downloadable, a download button appears in the corner of the media viewer. If no button appears, you cannot download or save the media.


Text on this page is printable and can be used according to our Terms of Service.


Any interactives on this page can only be played while you are visiting our website. You cannot download interactives.

Related Resources