Ether Day

Ether Day is a big deal here at Massachusetts General Hospital.

A lot has changed since October 16, 1846.

I suggest you spend a few minutes and read Atul Gawande’s fine article, Sharing Slow Ideas. Gawande writes, “Why do some innovations spread so swiftly and others so slowly? Consider the very different trajectories of surgical anesthesia and antiseptics, both of which were discovered in the nineteenth century. The first public demonstration of anesthesia was in 1846. The Boston surgeon Henry Jacob Bigelow was approached by a local dentist named William Morton, who insisted that he had found a gas that could render patients insensible to the pain of surgery…”

What are the implications for those of us trying to change medical practice in 2015 (TB infection control, white coats, etc?)

Ether statue in Boston Public Garden. How long should it take medical innovations to come to fruition?
Ether statue in Boston Public Garden. How long should it take medical innovations to come to fruition?

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