Sleeping with the fishes

One of the overwhelming priorities of medicine in the eighteenth century was the improvement of resuscitation methods. Drowning was a major cause of death, and physicians realised they needed better emergency procedures to treat those who had fallen into rivers, canals and lakes. Medical societies were set up in several European countries to investigate possible … Continue reading Sleeping with the fishes

Better late than never

Today’s medical journals pride themselves on their topicality, publishing the latest research as soon as it’s available – but those news values did not apply in 1845, when the Provincial Medical and Surgical Journal agreed to publish a case report almost half a century old. It was sent to them by a retired surgeon, William … Continue reading Better late than never

Evacuated with a spoon

In 1836 a doctor from rural Ireland, J.L. McCarthy, encountered a highly unusual case which he then reported to The Lancet.  The journal deemed it worthy of publication, although it is unlikely that many of its readers would ever need to know how to treat a patient suffering from this particular complaint: On Thursday, the … Continue reading Evacuated with a spoon

A bayonet through the head

In June 1809 a French military surgeon, M. Fardeau, read a paper at a meeting of the Société de Médecine de Paris. I can find little information about M. Fardeau, but he evidently served with distinction in the Napoleonic Wars, being rewarded with membership of the Légion d’honneur for his efforts. During the War of … Continue reading A bayonet through the head

The spear and the eucalyptus tree

In 1891 The Lancet printed this case report by Andrew Ross, a doctor who some years earlier had been practising in the small Australian settlement of Molong in New South Wales:  On Dec. 25th a messenger arrived requesting my attendance on one “Harry,” an aboriginal, who had, in an encounter with another of the race, … Continue reading The spear and the eucalyptus tree

A most remarkable accident

Here’s a case from The Medical Museum published in 1764 – more than seventy years after the patient had been treated and cured. To be fair to the tardy journal editor, it is a pretty unusual story: A most remarkable accident befell a young man near Hall in Saxony, whose name was Andreas Rudleff, being about twenty-six years of … Continue reading A most remarkable accident