Doctor Squibb: The Life and Times of a Rugged Idealist
"Perhaps the most remarkable commentary on the remarkable life story of Dr. Edward Robinson Squibb is the fact that it is almost unknown today. A hundred years ago "Squibb" meant "ether" to the physicians and apothecaries of the United States. Dr. Squibb was a true pioneer in anesthesia. He received his M.D. degree in 1845, the year before Dr. W.T.G. Morton gave his first public demonstration of the use of ether to eliminate pain in surgery. Thus, Dr. Squibb's medical career not only paralleled the birth and growth of the era of anesthetics; at times the two were indistinguishable. As an assistant surgeon in the United States Navy, Dr. Squibb saw ether used and misused. He noted that its effect varied greatly, and that it was not always successful in producing deep anesthesia. Finding that the variations were a direct result of impurities and of uneven strength, he was the first to devise a method of making pure ether of uniform quality. He also invented a process of distilling ether with live steam, thus eliminating the danger of an open flame to so volatile a liquid. Once he standardized the manufacture of ether, he followed his product into the operating room to perfect the techniques of its administration and to study effective dosage. To this end he invented a mask to replace the inhaler of Dr. Morton. Uniformity and purity became a lifetime passion with Dr. Squibb, a crusade which was to embrace all pharmacy. This book is about Dr. Squibb the man, based on his private journals written over the course of his adult life. The whole constitutes a personal and sharply observed panorama of nineteenth-century Philadelphia, New York, and Brooklyn, a critical appraisal of the state of American medicine a century ago, and a vivid self-portrait of Dr. Squibb the man." -- from Preface
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