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The Anesthesia Records of Harvey Cushing and Ernest Codman

Sundararaman, Lalitha V. MD; Desai, Sukumar P. MD
doi: 10.1213/ANE.0000000000002576
Research Report: PDF Only

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.

Accepted for publication September 4, 2017.

Funding: This study received intramural support.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Supplemental digital content is available for this article. Direct URL citations appear in the printed text and are provided in the HTML and PDF versions of this article on the journal’s website (

Reprints will not be available from the authors.

Address correspondence to Sukumar P. Desai, MD, Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative, and Pain Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, 75 Francis St, Boston, MA 02115. Address e-mail to

© 2017 International Anesthesia Research Society

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