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December 26, 1936


Author Affiliations


From the Thorndike Memorial Laboratory, Second and Fourth Medical Services (Harvard), Boston City Hospital, and the Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School.

JAMA. 1936;107(26):2104-2109. doi:10.1001/jama.1936.02770520006003

The administration of hypnotics and of sedatives acting on the nervous system represents one of the most frequently used therapeutic procedures in medicine. Millions are spent for the purchase of these drugs and, as the result of popular interest, they are often used without medical supervision. Indeed, their consumption is so widespread that the question has been raised whether they may exert a deleterious effect on an appreciable proportion of the population.1 In spite of the fact that these substances represent symptomatic remedies of great value, their use is not without danger. When they are administered intelligently, however, and with full knowledge of their pharmacologic and toxicologic properties, their beneficial effects distinctly outweigh the occasional untoward reactions. Instances are also not wanting in which the skilful application of these drugs has saved the patient's life.

There are few questions that recur in the minds of physicians as frequently as