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In the receiving room of the St. Louis City Hospital the ambulances bring in many patients dead, or apparently so, and it is my duty to determine quickly and definitely whether or not a patient is still living. These patients are pulseless and there is no visible sign of respiration. They appear extremely pallid, the pupils are dilated and there are the other signs of probable death. For the final proof we turn to the respiration. For some reason our reception room was not supplied with a mirror for the familiar breath test, so I was forced to a substitute.
The mouth is closed by hand and then the anterior nares of both sides are filled and covered with fine soapsuds. If respiration has ceased there is absolutely no movement of the bubbles. As it is evident that a patient can not live without breathing, this test continued for a
PITZMAN M. A SIMPLE PROOF OF THE CESSATION OF RESPIRATION.. JAMA. 1907;XLIX(10):853. doi:10.1001/jama.1907.25320100041003