Declan Warde, Joseph Tracey, and John CahillMar 27, 2023
Safety As We Watch
Anaesthesia in Ireland 1847-1998
Eastwood Books 2023
The discovery of anaesthesia which could be administered safely to eliminate the pain of surgery and other medical and dental procedures is widely considered to be one of the greatest developments of the nineteenth century. Yet, until now few studies have focused on anaesthesia in Ireland.
Safety As We Watch: Anaesthesia in Ireland 1847-1998 (Wordwell Books, 2022), written by three Irish anaesthetists, is the first published study of the history of anaesthesia in Ireland. Featuring fascinating vignettes of the personalities and innovators who led the development of anaesthesia in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the book leads readers through the history of the practice over 150 years, sketching global networks of exchange between medical practitioners and researchers. Beginning with the administration of the first general anaesthetic in Ireland on 1 January 1847, when ether was given to an 18-year-old girl undergoing an amputation under the care of Dr John MacDonnell, the book traces the debates and issues surrounding the uses and administration of anaesthesia through to the foundation of the College of Anaesthetists of Ireland in 1998. Safety as We Watch is divided into two parts: Part I focuses on the development of chloroform and ether, the mechanisms used to administer the drugs, as well as the innovators and medical professionals responsible, and Part II focuses on the organizations and academic developments in anaesthesia practice and education.
In its examination of this often-overlooked area in the history of Irish medicine Safety as We Watch offers new insight into medical organizations, as well as cultural conceptions of pain and consciousness, and the ways that anaesthesia transformed doctor-patient relationships. This book will be of great interest to medical professionals, historians of medicine, health humanities scholars and to more general readers interested in anaesthesia.Bridget English is a scholar of Irish literature and culture, modernism, and health humanities, based at the University of Illinois Chicago. She co-convenes the Irish Studies Seminar at the Newberry Library. On Twitter.