Statistics are notoriously unreliable, and yet there are certain problems which can hardly be studied by any other method. A striking illustration of one of the causes which leads to the untrustworthiness of vital statistics is found in the recent paper by Miller1 on ethyl chlorid anesthesia. In this paper Miller presents the statistics on 43,796 anesthesias with ethyl chlorid, in which there were 5 deaths. In the same paper, however, there are references to some 30 fatalities occurring during ethyl chlorid anesthesia, of which at least 20 are directly attributable to the anesthetic. These cases, however, could not be included in his table, because they were reported as isolated cases without any means of determining the corresponding number of anesthesias which had been produced with safety. Miller from his statistics places the mortality from ethyl chlorid anesthesia at 1 in 8,800 cases. McCardie2 presents statistics of 9,711
WOOD HC. THE COMPARATIVE DANGER OF ETHYL CHLORID AS AN ANESTHETIC. JAMA. 1910;55(26):2229. doi:10.1001/jama.1910.04330260037013
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