The Anesthesia Records of Harvey Cushing and Ernest Codman

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Abstract

Hundreds of thousands of anesthesia records are created each day. The earliest records were prepared by 2 medical students in late 19th-century Boston. Ernest Codman and Harvey Cushing went on to become prominent surgeons and contributed much to the safety of the surgical patient. Cushing’s career is celebrated due to his associations with William Stewart Halsted, Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, Yale University, in New Haven, Connecticut, and his biography of Sir William Osler. Codman is remembered for introducing the morbidity and mortality conference as well as his drive to improve outcomes and patient safety. We analyze every anesthetic record created by Codman and Cushing and provide both a historical context and perspective on many ways in which their doggedness, brilliance, and insight anticipated many advances that enhanced safety for patients undergoing surgical procedures.

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