ONE OF the most famous medical fallacies was the doctrine of "laudable pus." After Claudius Galen, the Greek physician and medical writer of the second century, supported the theory of coction in inflammation, the belief that certain kinds of pus were beneficial in the healing of wounds was perpetuated through the centuries until modern times. Medieval physicians who followed Galen were convinced that clean healing by first intention was impossible, and believed that it was only natural for wounds to suppurate before finally healing. Physicians insisted that wet dressings and ointments should be applied to wounds in order to produce the laudable pus, and although there occasionally were surgeons as early as the 13th century who fought the doctrine and used wine to cleanse wounds, it was not until Lister's time that medical science abandoned this fallacious reasoning.
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