Evidence-based medicine and hospital reform: tracing origins back to Florence Nightingale

Plast Reconstr Surg. 2010 Jan;125(1):403-409. doi: 10.1097/PRS.0b013e3181c2bb89.


The use of reliable evidence to evaluate health care interventions has gained strong support within the medical community and in the field of plastic surgery in particular. Evidence-based medicine aims to improve health care and reduce costs through the use of sound clinical evidence in evaluating treatments, procedures, and outcomes. The field is hardly new, however, and most trace its origins back to the work of Cochrane in the 1970s and Sackett in the 1990s. Though she wouldn't know it, Florence Nightingale was applying the concepts of evidence-based reform to the medical profession more than a century before. She used medical statistics to reveal the nature of infection in hospitals and on the battlefield. Moreover, Nightingale marshaled data and evidence to establish guidelines for health care reform. Tracing the origins of evidence-based medicine back to Nightingale underscores how critical this movement is to improving the quality and effectiveness of patient care today.

Publication types

  • Biography
  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Crimean War
  • Evidence-Based Medicine / history*
  • Health Care Reform
  • History, 19th Century
  • Hospital Design and Construction / history
  • Hospitals / history*
  • Hospitals / standards
  • Humans
  • Public Health / history*

Personal name as subject

  • Florence Nightingale