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May 03, 2012 2:28 PM “Two Hundred Years of Surgery”

By Austin Frakt

Who among us could fail to enjoy an article that includes this:

Liston operated so fast that he once accidentally amputated an assistant’s fingers along with a patient’s leg, according to Hollingham. The patient and the assistant both died of sepsis, and a spectator reportedly died of shock, resulting in the only known procedure with a 300% mortality.

And this:

At the present rate, the average American can expect to undergo seven operations during his or her lifetime.

There will be no shortage of health bloggers pointing you to Atul Gawande’s (ungated) paper in the most recent issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, from which the above two quotes were excerpted. It’s a thoroughly delightful summary of the history of surgery, the latest in NEJMs 200 year anniversary article series. (I’ve written about another in this series, on cardiovascular disease.)

[Cross-posted at The Incidental Economist]

Austin Frakt is a health economist and an assistant professor at Boston University's School of Medicine and School of Public Health. He blogs at The Incidental Economist.

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