The Royal Scottish Society of Arts
(Science and Technology)

Third Meeting of the One-Hundred and Seventy-Seventh Session 1997-98

The Emergence of the Professional Anaesthetist

Dr Alastair Masson, MB ChB, FRCA, FRCSEd

Honorary Archivist to the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, and formerly Consultant Anaesthetist and President of the Scottish Society of the History of Medicine

at the Royal Medical Society's Rooms Student Centre, 5/5 Bristo Square, Edinburgh 8 on Monday 15th December 1997 at 7.00 p.m.

One hundred and fifty years ago last month, James Young Simpson discovered the anaesthetic effects of chloroform in the dining room of his house at 52 Queen Street. the introduction of anaesthesia was, however, greeted not with the universal approbation which one would have expected, but with suspicion and hostility, even from some medical people. The administration of anaesthetics likewise for many years was considered an activity for the student or the most junior available doctor. The opposition to the professional anaesthetist was countered and eventually overcome, and Dr Masson will describe the benefits which then accrued to patient and surgeon alike and demonstrate how anaesthetics has emerged as a high-technology discipline at the frontiers of modern medicine.