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July 20, 1907


JAMA. 1907;XLIX(3):198-201. doi:10.1001/jama.1907.25320030002002

During the past few months, in a comparatively small radius, I have known of five deaths directly attributable to general anesthesia. In two instances chloroform was the anesthetizing agent, in two ether and in one somnoform. These represent a relatively small number of cases. If there were included those indirectly attributable to general anesthesia, through pneumonia, shock and renal complications, the proportion would surely be greater. It is probable that if all instances of death directly due to the anesthetic were known the rate would be much higher than that ordinarily given, that is, 1 in 1,000 for chloroform, 1 in 10,000 for ether, and 1 in 100,000 for nitrous oxid.

Were it possible to have in every hospital a skilled anesthetist whose duties consisted only in the administration of anesthetics, the question would be simpler and the danger would undoubtedly be lessened. For many reasons this is impossible in

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