Blood on the Tracks – Podcast Episode 38
Learn about a piece of epidemiological history: one of the earliest examples of population-level clinical studies influencing medical practice. This podcast tells the story of how French physician Pierre Charles Alexandre Louis studied a group of patients and ended up discovering quantitative evidence on the detriment of bloodletting. Learning the history helps place these tools in a broader context, which isn’t crucial, but interesting nonetheless.
The first population study in history was born out of a dramatic debate involving leeches, “medical vampires,” professional rivalries, murder accusations, and, of course, bloodletting, all in the backdrop of the French Revolution. The second of a multipart series on the development of population medicine, this episode contextualizes Pierre Louis’ “numerical method,” his famous trial on bloodletting, and the birth of a new way for doctors to “know”.