History: How surgical gloves came to be

The history of the humble glove is a love story for the ages

It turns out the tale of how surgical gloves came to be is really a love story worthy of the wards of Grey’s Anatomy.

For in the operating room of Baltimore’s John Hopkins Hospital in 1889, amid the bloodstained overcoats and teased moustaches, a romance was budding between surgeon and scrub nurse.

Dr William Halsted clapped eyes on Caroline Hampton through the haze of mercuric chloride and carbolic acid and felt the first pangs of love; Miss Hampton, on the other hand, just felt itchy.

She had contact dermatitis from all the harsh disinfectants being used, an allergic reaction that threatened to remove her from the surgical theatre — and Dr Halsted’s life.

This he could not abide, and with all the passion of a Shakespearean sonnet, he described what happened next in the Journal of the American Medical Association:

“As she was an unusually efficient woman, I gave