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Article
March 2, 1957

MEDICOLEGAL HAZARDS OF ANESTHESIA

JAMA. 1957;163(9):746-748. doi:10.1001/jama.1957.82970440011015

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Abstract

Four years ago a British high court judge delivering judgment in a law suit, a case in which a patient had died after an injection of thiopental (Pentothal) sodium, said: "It is a fact that to anaesthetise a human being, to deprive him of consciousness outright, is to take a considerable step along the road to killing him." American doctors will doubtless share with their British colleagues the feeling that the learned judge was taking an unjustifiably dim view of the expectation of life of a person about to be anesthetized. Nevertheless, they will agree that in the administration of an anesthetic even comparatively minor degrees of lack of skill and knowledge can result in the direst consequences.

New techniques and developments in anesthesia have increased both the scope and safety of surgery-brain and lung surgery are examples. Compared with the number of lives that have been saved, and conditions

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