John Snow's practice of obstetric anesthesia
by
Caton D.
Department of Anesthesiology,
University of Florida College of Medicine,
Gainesville, USA.
caton@anest2.anest.ufl.edu
Anesthesiology. 2000 Jan;92(1):247-52


ABSTRACT

The influence of Queen Victoria on the acceptance of obstetric anesthesia has been overstated, and the role of John Snow has been somewhat overlooked. It was his meticulous, careful approach and his clinical skills that influenced many of his colleagues, Tyler-Smith and Ramsbotham and the Queen's own physicians. The fact that the Queen received anesthesia was a manifestation that the conversion of Snow's colleagues had already taken place. This is not to say that this precipitated a revolution in practice. Medical theory may have changed, but practice did not, and the actual number of women anesthetized for childbirth remained quite low. This, however, was a reflection of economic and logistical problems, too few women were delivered of newborn infants during the care of physicians or in hospitals. Conversely, it is important to recognize that John Snow succeeded in lifting theoretical restrictions on the use of anesthesia.
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