Zsuzsanna Kossuth was born on 19 February 1817. She was the younger sister of Lajos Kossuth. They worked together during the cholera epidemic of 1831 in Upper Hungary (today Slovakia), attending to quarantined patients and suspected cases. As a result of this, she acquired a great deal of experience in nursing, which she was able to use later.
Under the leadership of Ferenc Flor, the health corps of the Hungarian army was reformed in early 1849, and on 16April1849, Lajos Kossuth named his sister as the "head nurse of all field hospitals". Zsuzsanna Kossuth realized that there were too few field hospitals and in the span of a few months she founded 72 new ones. One of the key issues was staffing and the quantity of supplies. The men were fighting on the front, often losing their lives defending their country, and thus it was necessary for women to attend to the wounded and sick. She was the first to see that there were not nearly enough nurses in the hospitals, and she consequently called upon Hungarian women to volunteer to care for the wounded and sick, and to help produce medical equipment and bandages. Answering this call, a massive number of nurses began to work.
Along with providing physical care, she also believed it was very important to address patients' psychological and emotional needs. In addition to taking care of Hungarian soldiers, she also attended to wounded Austrian and Russian soldiers without any reservations.
Based on her experience from these activities, she raised the issue of providing professional training for nurses and also prepared a detailed plan for such training. As the revolution failed, however, these plans were never put into effect. Nevertheless, the fundamentals of nursing established by Zsuzsanna Kossuth were preserved, making a great contribution to the further development of the Hungarian nursing profession. The nursing system introduced by her was unparalleled in Hungary or anywhere else in Europe that time.
After the war was lost, Zsuzsanna Kossuth had to flee Hungary. She went first to Belgium and then to the USA, where she lived a life of poverty and illness until her death in 1854.
In 1998, the Hungarian Nursing Association founded an award to commemorate Zsuzsanna Kossuth. The Hungarian Parliament declared the 19'h of February, the birth date of Zsuzsanna Kossuth, as the Day of Hungarian Nursing with Resolution.
In commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Zsuzsanna Kossuth the Magyar Nemzeti Bank issued a 2000 forint base metal collector coin.
The obverse of the coin shows a scene of a military field hospital, the reserve depicts the portrait of Zsuzsanna Kossuth. The coin is designed by Ildiko Eross.