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Ann Surg. 2004 May;239(5):648-50.

Ephraim McDowell: the qualities of a good surgeon.

Author information

  • 1Division of Pediatric Surgery, Suite 418 CSB, Medical University of South Carolina, PO Box 250613, 96 Jonathan Lucas Street, Charleston, SC 29425, USA. othershb@musc.edu

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To identify those personal qualities which enabled Dr. Ephraim McDowell to be successful as the first surgeon in the world to remove a large ovarian tumor.

SUMMARY BACKGROUND DATA:

Dr. McDowell, in 1809 and before anesthesia or antisepsis, removed a large ovarian tumor from his patient, Jane Todd Crawford, who then survived 33 years.

METHODS:

Existing histories and accounts of Ephraim McDowell's life and operations were sifted for his personal qualities. A visit to the McDowell House and family 200 reunion in Danville, Kentucky, added details.

RESULTS:

Qualities of confidence, compassion, courage, commitment, communication, courtesy, and especially cleanliness have been identified.

CONCLUSIONS:

Those qualities attributed to Ephraim McDowell perhaps were instrumental in his successes. Those basic qualities are still important for surgeons today.

PMID:
15082968
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC1356272
Free PMC Article
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