Many of nursing' s contributions have been unrecognized (or even ridiculed) until the medical establishment condonces them.
Florence Nightingale is most remembered as a pioneer of nursing and a reformer of hospital sanitation methods. For most of her ninety years, Nightingale
pushed for reform of the British military health-care system and with that the profession of nursing started to gain the respect it deserved. Unknown to
many, however, was her use of new techniques of statistical analysis, such as during the Crimean War when she plotted the incidence of preventable deaths
in the military. She developed the "polar-area diagram" to dramatize the needless deaths caused by unsanitary conditions and the need for reform. With her analysis, Florence Nightingale revolutionized the idea that social phenomena could be objectively measured and subjected to mathematical analysis. She was an innovator in the collection, tabulation, interpretation, and graphical display of descriptive statistics.
During Nightingale's time at Scutari, she collected data and systematized record-keeping practices. Nightingale was able to use the data as a tool for improving city and military hospitals. Nightingale's calculations of the mortality rate showed that with an improvement of sanitary methods, deaths would decrease. In February, 1855, the mortality rate at the hospital was 42.7 percent of the cases treated (Cohen 131). When Nightingale's sanitary reform was implemented, the mortality rate declined. Nightingale took her statistical data and represented them graphically. She invented polar-area charts, where the statistic being represented is proportional to the area of a wedge in a circular diagram (Cohen 133).
As Nightingale demonstrated, statistics provided an organized way of learning and lead to improvements in medical and surgical practices. She also developed a Model Hospital Statistical Form for hospitals to collect and generate consistent data and statistics. She became a Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society in 1858 and an honorary member of the American Statistical Association in 1874. Karl Pearson acknowledged Nighingale as a
"prophetess" in the development of applied statistics.