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September 20, 1941


Author Affiliations

From the Department of Physiology, Harvard Medical School.

JAMA. 1941;117(12):983-987. doi:10.1001/jama.1941.02820380005003

Electricity and electrical instruments have become commonplace features of present day life. Electric light, telephones, radios and electric motors are all about us, and "volts" and "amperes" are so familiar as to appear even in the comic strips of our daily newspapers. Electrical ways of doing things are numerous in the operating room, the clinic and the laboratory, from electrocautery and diathermy to roentgen ray and electrometric titrations. But few electrical instruments in the hospital, with the outstanding exception of the electrocardiograph, represent true contributions of physiology or, more particularly, electrophysiology to medicine. Most of our other electrical instruments are useful tools with which the healthy body can be studied or the sick body treated, but they do not deal primarily with the electrical phenomena or properties of the body itself.

Electrophysiology has been willing and eager to make its contributions, sometimes in fact even too eager, but its misfortunes