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December 23, 1939


JAMA. 1939;113(26):2308-2310. doi:10.1001/jama.1939.02800510030008

The Committee on Anesthesia Accidents of the American Medical Association1 stated in 1930: "Explosion is statistically today the least of the hazards of anesthesia." In comparison with such causes of surgical and anesthetic death as pneumonia, shock, hemorrhage, embolus, overdose of anesthetic and asphyxia from respiratory obstruction, the incidence of explosion is still so small that it may be classed with the rare complications.

Although statistically their importance is minute, they are of great emotional importance. The dramatic nature of the accident and of the death that may occur leads to publicity. The noise, the dramatic suddenness and the publicity all tend to produce a wave of fear, and under the emotional tension of fear it is felt that something must be done, and done quickly. The thing that is done not infrequently turns out to be quite illogical. Thus in one hospital after a nitrous oxide-ether explosion the