of the principles by which the pulsator operated, and we will see in the section on ‘Patient experiences in the machine’ that this dispute led to the MRC leading an intervention to decide on a ‘standard’ breathing machine. However, these inimitable breathing machines proved to be remarkably difficult to standardise.
Technologies designed to enable breathing are unique in their association with life, death and voice. 9 As I have previously discussed with philosopher Havi Carel and healthcare professional Kate Binnie, ‘technologies bringing oxygen into the body
Britain in the mid-eighteenth century and became a signature feature of modernity around the world in the nineteenth century’. 124 For example, in economic principles, the value of a life should mean just how much it is worth to the person living it. 125 In practice, it was (and remains) difficult for people to put a quantitative value on their own existence. As a result, the measure used instead is the average lost income on death. Actuaries tried to arrive at a legitimate sum of money that could compensate families for the loss of the main breadwinner rather than
on his light-hearted point that ‘German brains were on average 100 grams heavier than French brains so therefore brain size could not possibly correlate with intelligence.’ 78 However, Broca was able to repudiate Gratiolet by applying corrections to French brains for non-intellectual factors that impact on the brain’s size at death, including age, health, manner of death and body size. 79
This case demonstrates the importance of relevant reference classes and shows how their inclusion or exclusion can allow for easy manipulation of data. Broca never used these
Timmermans and Berg have demonstrated, standards can function as political tools. For instance, amidst the Covid19 global pandemic, divergent standards between countries in the manner of calculating death rates have been linked to political expediency. Thus, ‘standards are inherently political because their construction and application transform the practices in which they become embedded’. 91
The fight for recognition of and compensation for ‘miner’s lung’ is a clear example of the way in which politics and objective standards can conflict with testimony.
aid rather than as a fitment enabling a hearing aid to be used with the telephone. 149
The Ministry of Health interpreted the 1946 National Health Act to include ‘provision of surgical, medical, and other appliances’. 150 Despite the decree that amplified telephony did not quite fit any of these headings, the adaptors were produced. 151 In fact it was a letter from the NID offering to arrange user trials of the device that rang the death knell for this project. 152 When people actually used the adaptor, it became clear that the engineers had not considered
interview Nendö people as part of their investigation into the Pacific Islands labour trade, which Goodenough considered a modern form of slavery. In an echo of the death of Captain James Cook almost one hundred years before, the men came under attack while fleeing the beach for the relative safety of the Pearl 's whaleboats, pursued by islanders who had long since grown wary of British intrusion. Diligently recorded by the Pearl 's surgeon, Adam Brunton Messer, the symptoms suffered by at least three of the wounded sailors were undoubtedly those of tetanus. Though the
In December 1811, Ernst Horn, a Professor at the Berlin Charité hospital was sued over the death of one of his patients. The twenty-one-year-old Louise Thiele had been hospitalised in August 1811 and diagnosed with hysteria. The doctor recommended the full variety of applications commonly prescribed at the time. Cold water baths were applied with doses of a hundred buckets of cold water. The patient was put in a rotating bed, an apparatus inspired by the English swing machine, restrained and rotated with a cadence of 120 times per minute
demand. Two incidents in particular are highlighted: an epidemic in Coventry in 1957; and the death of the professional footballer Jeff Hall in 1959. The chapter ends with the introduction of oral poliomyelitis vaccine and the end to these long-running supply issues.
As well as covering demand, the rhetoric around polio vaccine exposes other themes that we have already encountered in the 1950s and 1960s vaccination programmes. The general climate of demand was welcome, but the government was consistently worried about pockets of apathy shown by
Cancer, modernity, and decline in fin-de-siècle Britain
In 1899, the Contemporary Review published an article by the English physician Woods Hutchinson (1862–1930) entitled ‘The cancer problem: or, treason in the republic of the body’.
In this article, thick with metaphorical allusions and polemic, Hutchinson condensed to thirteen pages the diverse and fraught anxieties that attended cancer in late nineteenth-century Britain. He wrote about how, over the past thirty years, the ‘deaths per thousand living from this malady’ had doubled in England
Ian Kennedy, oversight and accountability in the 1980s
academic lawyer Ian Kennedy. Since
the late 1960s, Kennedy has written on medical definitions of death
and mental illness, euthanasia, the doctor–patient relationship and
the rights of AIDS patients. In line with the ‘hands-off’ approach of
lawyers, Kennedy’s early work stressed that decisions should rest
solely with the medical profession; but this stance changed after
he encountered bioethics during a spell in the United States. In
1980 Kennedy used the prestigious BBC Reith Lectures to endorse
the approach that he explicitly labelled ‘bioethics’, critiquing