history of medicine

  • 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

  • Photo of Renato Dulbecco (public domain)
    February 22, 2014   BY Dr. Howard Markel 

    Every elementary school student knows that Feb. 22 is George Washington’s birthday. Far fewer (if any) know that it is also the birthday of the Nobel Prize-winning scientist Renato Dulbecco. While not the father of his country — he was … Continue reading