Florence Nightingale (1820–1920)

Florence Nightingale was a brilliant medical analyst, a reformer who championed the use of statistics for evaluating the practice of medicine. After the Crimean War (1853–1856) where she witnessed how thousands of British soldiers died from infections, Nightingale visited almost every hospital in Europe, analyzed them and then wrote up her findings in “Notes on Hospitals,” which became the guide to hospital architecture for the next century. Its opening sentence states: “It may seem a strange principle to enunciate as the very first requirement in a hospital that it should do the sick no harm. It is quite necessary, nevertheless, to lay down such a principle.” She understood the importance of adhering to Medicine’s first ethical principle — even in the absence of anesthesia, antisepsis, oxygen, IVs or antibiotics. She laid out in a graphic chart one of the first hospital mortality statistics ever collected, recognizing the importance of statistics to discover the causes of serious injury and mortality in medicine: “To understand God’s thought, we must study statistics.”