Articles  |   June 2017
Cardinal Events in the History of Anesthesia … This Month … That Year
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Central and Peripheral Nervous Systems / Critical Care / Pain Medicine / Pharmacology / Respiratory System / Articles
Articles   |   June 2017
Cardinal Events in the History of Anesthesia … This Month … That Year
ASA Monitor 06 2017, Vol.81, 42-43.
ASA Monitor 06 2017, Vol.81, 42-43.
Sir James Young Simpson was a Scottish obstetrician widely credited with the first demonstration of the anesthetic properties of chloroform and use in humans. He was born on June 7, 1811, in Scotland. Simpson and his friends used to try out several new chemicals in a recreational manner to see if they had any anesthetic effect. On inhaling chloroform at such a session, they found that a general mood of cheer and bonhomie had set in. But suddenly all of them collapsed only to regain consciousness the next morning. Simpson knew, as soon as he woke up, that he had found something that could be used as an anesthetic. This is the official story in the biography written by his niece Eve. However, deeper research by Henry Connor, an honorary research fellow at the University of Birmingham in the U.K., revealed that Dr. Simpson had been the examiner for the M.D. thesis of one Richard Mortimer Glover (1815-1859) who in his thesis had described the physiological, narcotic and anesthetic properties of “compounds of bromine, iodine and chlorine and his experiments in animals.” Years later when Simpson published his clinical experiments with chloroform as an anesthetic, Glover claimed priority as having published the anesthetic properties of chloroform years earlier in his thesis and criticized Simpson for not acknowledging him. However, he was dismissed by a derisive Simpson who stated that as a clinician, he had no time to read about animal experiments, which as an examiner of the thesis, he would have done. Sadly, Glover became an opiate addict and died of an overdose of chloroform, which he used as a sedative.
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