Canadian Medical Lives
Series edited by T.P. Morley, M.D.
Howard Griffith: The Evolution of Modern Anaesthesia
By: Professor Richard Bodman F.R.C.P.C. and Doctor Deirdre Gillies F.R.C.P.C.
Published: Dundurn Press (1992)
Harold Griffith, scorned at first by world leaders in anaesthesia for daring to suggest curare, a South American arrow poison, as a valuable adjunct to general anaesthetics, leapt into fame when he demonstrated its usefulness. Working out of the Montreal Homoeopathic Hospital (later to be named the Queen Elizabeth Hospital) and with no university appointment at the time, he was a leader in the scientific and practical innovations of his specialty. Quickly recognizing the significance of his work, his detractors became his strongest supporters, and although he remained a loyal staff member of the Montreal Homoeopathic Hospital throughout his life, he accepted in addition professional appointments at McGill University medical school. While his work in curare made him world-famous, it had the no less valuable result of compelling the world of anaesthesia to heed his other suggestions, which were many, and to act on them.
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