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Book and Media Reviews
May 5, 2010

Genius on the Edge: The Bizarre Double Life of Dr. William Stewart Halsted

JAMA. 2010;303(17):1756. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.557

William Stewart Halsted was one of the greatest surgeons of the 20th century. Alongside other luminaries such as William Osler, he founded and developed the surgical service at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, along the way pioneering a meticulous and bloodless operative technique. Halsted was the first to use sterile rubber gloves in the operating room, and he practically invented modern surgical techniques for hernia, breast cancer, thyroid, and vascular disease. He also developed the hierarchical system of surgical residency training that first spread across the United States and then to much of the world. He handpicked his residents, many of whom went on to become greats in the field. Harvey Cushing is perhaps his best known protégé, but there were many others.