Jan Palfijn was a Belgian surgeon and obstetrician born in the city of Kortrijk, Flanders. He practiced medicine in Ypres and Paris, in 1697 he moved to Ghent, where he remained for the rest of his life.
Palfijn is especially remembered for introducing the obstetrical forceps into medicine in the early 1720s. Palfijn's forceps initially had a problem because the two separate halves occasionally shifted during use. Later the two halves of the forceps were linked by a hinge to correct the problem.
|Francesco Cattini: Jan Palfijn|
|By Paul Hermans - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0|
In 1718 Palfijn published an influential work for surgeons called l'Anatomie du corps humain (Anatomy of the human body). Reportedly, this book was still in use in Japan in the latter part of the 19th century.
Jan Palfijn wrote a lot about his inventions and findings. In 1723 his book "The Iron Hands" was published, in which he described his obstetrical forceps. Jan Palfijn died in April 1730 in Ghent. Today in Ghent there are the Palfijn Medical Museum and the Jan Palfijn Hospital. There is also a hospital in Antwerp barring is name.