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January 30, 1960


Author Affiliations


From the Anesthesia Laboratory of the Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital.

JAMA. 1960;172(5):449-451. doi:10.1001/jama.1960.63020050002012

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In an exact sense there is no such thing as clinical science, and there is no science of anesthesia. Anesthesia is an aggregation of clinical techniques built on several sciences, among others pharmacology, physiology, biochemistry, physical chemistry, and physics. Anesthesia is not a science, which is one of several reasons why I object to the term anesthesiology, meaning science of anesthesia. There is, however, a better reason than the semantic one for laboring this point, for herein lies the clue as to where research fundamental to the growth of the field is bound to occur; that is, in the basic sciences. Anesthesia greatly needs investigators capable of working in the basic sciences. As long as anesthesia (or any other specialty) leads a parasitic existence, scientifically speaking, depending as it does almost wholly on scientists in other fields for fundamental developments, it can hardly have much stature among other and stronger

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