NY Times on President Garfield’s gunshot wound and how it confounded doctors at the time:
At least a dozen medical experts probed the president’Â’s wound, often with unsterilized metal instruments or bare hands, as was common at the time.
Sterile technique, developed by the British surgeon Joseph Lister in the mid-1860′s, was not yet widely appreciated in the United States, although it was accepted in France, Germany and other parts of Europe. Historians agree that massive infection, which resulted from unsterile practices, contributed to Garfield’Â’s death . . .
. . . “One man suggested that they turn the president upside down and see if the bullet would just fall out,” Dr. Barbian said.