Dr. Howard Markel

  • "Death of Washington, Dec. 14. A.D. 1799" from the Library of Congress
    December 14, 2014   BY Dr. Howard Markel 

    It was a house call no physician would relish. On Dec. 14, 1799, three doctors were summoned to Mount Vernon in Fairfax County, Virginia to attend to a critically ill, 67-year-old man who happened to be known as “the father of our country.” Continue reading

  • A feeding tube and other items used in the forced feeding of detainees is seen at the detainee hospital at Guantanamo Bay. Doctors say that the method of rectal feeding and hydrating described in the Senate's report on the CIA's interrogation practices is not practiced in modern medicine. 2013 file photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images
    December 12, 2014   BY Domenico Montanaro 

    One of the more dramatic findings of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the CIA’s interrogation practices is that some uncooperative detainees were subjected to “rectal rehydration” and “rectal feedings.” But doctors say the practice is almost never used, that it’s humiliating and not the best way to rehydrate a patient.
    Continue reading

  • Atomic Energy Act 1946 Truman
    November 19, 2014   BY Dr. Howard Markel 

    Back in 1945 — a mere seven months into a presidency he inherited from Franklin D. Roosevelt — Truman proposed a “universal” national health insurance program. In his remarks to Congress, he declared, “Millions of our citizens do not now have a full measure of opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health. Millions do not now have protection or security against the economic effects of sickness. The time has arrived for action to help them attain that opportunity and that protection.” Continue reading

  • ellis
    October 15, 2014   BY Dr. Howard Markel 

    Oct. 15, 1966 marked the day that Ellis Island (along with Liberty Island and the Statue of Liberty) was officially listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. Continue reading

  • Photo by Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
    September 29, 2014   BY Dr. Howard Markel 

    Early on the morning of Sept. 29, 1982, a tragic, medical mystery began with a sore throat and a runny nose. It was then that Mary Kellerman, a 12-year-old girl from Elk Grove Village, a suburb of Chicago, told her mother and father about her symptoms. They gave her one extra-strength Tylenol capsule that, unbeknownst to them, was laced with the highly poisonous potassium cyanide. Mary was dead by 7 a.m. Within a week, her death would panic the entire nation. And only months later, it changed the way we purchase and consume over-the-counter medications. Continue reading

  • Babe Ruth poses in the visitors dugout in Cleveland in this 1927 photo. The  Photo by Louis Van Oeyen/Western Reserve Historical Society/Getty Images
    August 15, 2014   BY Dr. Howard Markel 

    Besides being a beloved baseball star, Babe Ruth was one of the first cancer patients to receive a combination of chemotherapy and radiation, a practice that doctors still use today. Continue reading

  • President Lyndon B. Johnson signing the Medicare Bill at the Harry S. Truman Library in Independence, Missouri. Former President Harry S. Truman is seated at the table with President Johnson. In the background from right to left: Senator Edward V. Long, an unidentified man, Lady Bird Johnson, Senator Mike Mansfield, Vice President Hubert Humphrey, and Bess Truman. Archive photo from the White House Press Office
    July 30, 2014   BY Dr. Howard Markel 

    Forty-nine years ago, President Lyndon B. Johnson found himself in Independence, Missouri. Although he was surrounded by a gaggle of politicians, distinguished guests and Secret Service agents, the president was armed only with a fountain pen, a bottle of ink and a sheath of papers. Seated directly beside him, so as to accommodate the newspaper photographers and the television cameras, was Independence’s favorite son, the 33rd president of the United States, Harry S. Truman. Continue reading

  • Thanks to Dr. Henry J. Heimlich, Sgt. Major John Ohmer demonstrates the lifesaving technique bearing the doctor’s name to student Zachary Lawhorn in this March, 2010 file photo. Photo by Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images
    June 16, 2014   BY Dr. Howard Markel 

    In 1972, the New York Times reported that more than 3,000 people in the U.S. choked to death that year, making it the sixth most common cause of accidental death. Up until that time, the usual response upon discovering a choking person was to slap him or her on the back. But many doctors insisted that a blow on the back tends to drive the object downward, lodging that obstruction even more tightly in the airway. It was precisely this scenario that inspired a Cincinnati surgeon named Henry J. Heimlich to search for a better way to rescue a choking victim. Continue reading

  • A Red Cross nurse is featured prominently on this recruiting poster, circa 1917. Photo by Getty Images
    May 22, 2014   BY Dr. Howard Markel 

    May 21 marks the founding of the American Red Cross. Over its 133-year history, it has provided a wide menu of services to help the needy, disaster victims, military personnel and their families. The American Red Cross is also a major participant in the collection, processing and distribution of blood and blood products, the development of educational programs on health, preparedness and safety, and, in partnership with other affiliate organizations of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, relief and development efforts all over the world. Continue reading

  • The 1939 first edition, first printing of Alcoholics Anonymous by Bill Wilson from 1939, known as the Big Book. Photo by Flickr user AbeBooks
    April 10, 2014   BY Dr. Howard Markel 

    April 10, 1939, marks the publication date of “Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How Many Thousands of Men and Women Have Recovered from Alcoholism.” One of the best-selling books of all time (it has sold more than 30 million copies), the volume is better known to millions of recovering alcoholics and addicts as “the Big Book.” Its influence on the world’s health and the treatment of alcoholism and other addictions is immeasurable. In 2011, Time magazine placed the Big Book on its 100 most influential books written in English since 1923 (not coincidentally the year the magazine was founded). In 2012, the Library of Congress designated it as one of the 88 books that shaped America. Continue reading

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