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June 4, 1904


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JAMA. 1904;XLII(23):1492. doi:10.1001/jama.1904.92490680032003

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History.  —C. K., male, age 60, Swede, a patient at the county hospital, secured access to a bottle of commercial formaldehyd (40 per cent.), used for disinfecting purposes and swallowed with unknown intent, an unknown quantity, estimated at two or three ounces. The fact that the patient had been recently released from a workhouse sentence and was a long sufferer from a chronic dysenteric condition might lend weight to a suicidal purpose, which, indeed, was the substance of the coroner's verdict.

Symptoms.  —When first seen, a few minutes after swallowing the formaldehyd, the patient was lying in bed, where he had been carried after falling to the floor. He was tossing around in bed, groaning aloud, evidently suffering intense pain. Questions could not be, at least were not, answered. The diagnosis was made by the odor of formaldehyd on tne breath, after eliciting from other patients that he had been seen drinking

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