Medical Supplies in Early 20th-Century Hospitals

Hospitals are an incredibly important part of every community in the United States. From acute-care hospitals to psychiatric and long-term care facilities, these institutions provide a life-saving service. In order for these places to save lives, they have to be well supplied. From bandages to highly complex machines, these items have proven to be the backbone of any hospital. We will be exploring various supplies and medical machines that were used in the early 20th-century. More specifically, the items below were manufactured in 1915. We will also be taking a price comparison; based on inflation, we can look at how much these items would cost in today’s world. The items will be divided into various categories and these were subject to being used in many departments/wards and facilities. The prices of these items were compiled before the First World War; during and after the War, prices increased for these items substantially. However, for brevity, the prices that are mentioned here from 1915 are the pre-War prices.

Here are some items you could find in hospitals and medical practices across Kentucky and the United States in the early 1900s. Keep in mind that the bulk of the proceeding items were reusable.

Hospital, Operating Room, Office, and Patient Necessities

Baldwin’s Operating Table
The top was thick porcelain, offered reverse Trendelenburg, Lilienthal gallstone, stomach, and kidney bridge elevator, Cunningham sliding kidney posts, Bierhodd knee crutches, anesthesia screen, and a shelf for a drain pan.
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$150.00$3,816.45

Reeves’ Flexible Hand Stretcher
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$7.00$178.10

Hospital Wheel Stretcher
This stretcher was made of a steel frame with a white enamel coating and white oak top. The wheels were clinched-in rubber and had nickel-plated handles.
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$45.00$1,144.93

Ward Carriage
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$40.00$1,017.72

Hospital Bed
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$11.25$286.23

Aseptible Instrument Cabinet
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$60.00$1,526.58

Aseptible Treatment Table
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$20.00$508.86

Commode Chair, Metal
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$12.00$305.32

Irrigation Stand
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$27.50$699.68

Wallace’s Adjustable Invalid Bed, With Fracture Attachments
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$60.00$1,526.58

Thompson’s Bed Lift
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$35.00$890.50

Thermal Bath Cabinet
The free and intelligent use of hot-air and vapor baths was recommended by highest medical authorities as a natural promoter of health, preventing of disease, mental rest, abating nervous excitement, and a sure stay against increase or excess of weight.
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$12.50$318.04

Frazier-Lentz Hot-Air Apparatus
Dry, hot air was used in the treatment of rheumatic diseases as well as with fractures, sprains, and dislocations.
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$50.00$1,272.15

Lentz Formaldehyde Gas Disinfector
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$12.50$318.04

Formalin Lamp
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$1.50$38.16

American Steam Pressure Bedding Disinfector
Formaldehyde and ammonia attachments were available. These units disinfected mattresses, pillows, bed clothing, wearing apparel, etc.
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$NA$NA

Invalid Rolling Chair
Included optional attachments with springs, commode, and push handle.
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$39.25$998.64

Hand Mitt Restraints With Waist Strap
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$8.00$203.54

Muff with Waist Strap
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$8.00$203.54

Wristlets
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$5.50$139.94

Straight Jacket
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$6.00$152.66

Bedside Table, Adjustable
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$8.50$216.27

Back Rest, Wood, with Bed Tray
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$6.25$159.02

Bed Pan, Porcelain
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$1.75$44.53

Walsh Window Tent for Tuberculosis Patients
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$12.50$318.04

American Dressing Sterilizer
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$250.00$6,360.74

American Instrument Sterilizer
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$100.00$2,544.30

Rubber Gloves
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$0.90$22.90

Operating Room Gown
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$1.75$44.53

Contagious Diseases Gown
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$2.50$63.61

Operating Room Hood
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$1.75$44.53

Examining Table
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$35.00$890.50

Instruments and Equipment


Complete Nitrous Oxid [sic] Outfit for General Anesthesia
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$73.75$1,876.42

Chloroform Inhaler and Chloroform Bottle
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$1.90$48.34

Ether Vapor Inhaler
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$8.00$203.54

Absorbent Cotton Dressings
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$0.40 per lb$10.18

Sterilized Gauze
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$0.35$8.91

Catgut Sutures in Breakable Bottle
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$3.00$76.33

Suture Needles
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$1.25$31.80

Suture Needle Holder
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$3.00$76.33

Amputating Knives
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$3.25 each$82.69

Conant’s Knives and Saw with Handle
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$11.75$298.95

Amputating Set, Complete Set
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$22.50$572.47

Tourniquet
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$1.75$44.53

Bone Drill, Complete Set
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$22.50$572.47

General Operating Set
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$48.00$1,221.26

Nurses’ Red Cross Chatelaine Case, Complete Set
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$6.00$152.66

Aspirating and Injecting Syringe
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$3.50$89.05

Potain Aspirator
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$14.50$268.92

Intravenous and Emergency Set, Complete
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$19.50$496.14

Kelly Infusion Apparatus
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$3.75$95.41

Mouth Gag
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$2.25$57.25

Dwyer Intubation Set, Complete
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$22.00$559.75

Therapeutic Oxygen Administration Set
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$22.00$559.75

Stomach Tube Set
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$7.50$190.82

Therapeutic Cupping Set
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$6.50$165.38

Glass Barrel Syringe Set
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$1.35$34.35

All Glass Antitoxin Syringe Set
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$5.50$139.94

Stethoscope
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$2.25$57.25

Sphygmomanometer, Complete Set
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$20.00$508.86

Bausch & Lomb Microscope
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$80.00$2,035.44

Hemometer
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$24.00$610.63

Infant Incubator
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$150.00$3,816.45

Keystone Electrotherapeutic Wall Cabinet
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$250.00$6,360.74

Snook Roentgen Apparatus (X-Ray), Complete
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$994.00$25,290.31

Wheel Crutch
Used for patients who lost control of their lower extremities allowing them, as much as possible, to move about freely.
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$50.00$1,272.15

Prosthetic Leg
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$95.00$2,417.08

Nebulizer
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$37.50$954.11

Pilling-McCallie Audiometer (Hearing Tester)
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$50.00$1,272.15

Auricles (Hearing Aides)
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$4.50$114.49

Audiophone (Conversation Fan)
Cost in 1915Cost in 2020
$5.00$127.21

Contributed by Shawn Logan | contact@kyhi.org


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