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December 28, 1957


JAMA. 1957;165(17):2198. doi:10.1001/jama.1957.02980350056014

THE SAFETY of an anesthetic agent given to a surgical patient depends on the knowledge of the anesthetist and the vigilance with which he watches and cares for his patient. When an anesthetic is being given to an obstetric patient this is only half true, because the anesthetist cannot always determine the effect of the anesthetic on the unborn infant.1 This is not meant to imply that anesthetic deaths occur only in infants but is meant to stress the fact that a double risk is involved. Although no mother ever died from the pain of childbirth, many die annually from efforts to relieve it.2 As other causes of maternal death are being brought under control, the relative number of anesthetic deaths has increased so that this cause is now estimated to rank fourth or fifth.3 Add to this the fact that most analgesics and anesthetics used in