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Doctor Curmudgeon® Guy’s Hospital in London

By Diane Batshaw Eisman, M.D. FAAP Doctor Eisman is in Family Practice in Aventura, Florida with her partner, Dr. Eugene Eisman, an internist/cardiologist

THOMAS ADDISON discovered Addison’s disease–in which the Adrenal Glands do not produce enough cortisol.

THOMAS HODGKIN discovered Hodgkin’s lymphoma –a cancer originating from white blood cells: the lymphocytes.

JOHN BRAXTON HICKS was the obstetrician who discovered the Braxton Hicks uterine contractions.

RICHARD BRIGHT discovered Bright’s disease–a group of inflammatory diseases within the kidneys.

BENJAMIN GUY BABINGTON invented the laryngoscope.

JAMES BLUNDELL conducted the first human to human blood transfusions.

What did these distinguished physicians have in common?

They were among the many notables who worked or studied at Guy’s Hospital in central London.

Thomas Guy was a philanthropist who amassed tremendous wealth from printing bibles and his other financial investments.

His massive fortune enabled him to donate large sums of money to London Hospitals. In recognition of his generosity, St. Thomas Hospital made him a Governor. Thomas Guy soon realized that “incurables” were being discharged from the hospital. This was the impetus that led him to found Guy’s Hospital. Guy’s admitted afflicted people who had been refused treatment from St. Thomas and other hospitals.

In 1721, Guy’s Hospital opened its door. A medical school was soon established at the hospital; and combined with nearby St. Thomas for teaching in both sites.

In 1879, Guy’s Hospital found itself embroiled in a nursing dispute. Margaret Burt was a matron at Guy’s. Her nurses were not being respected by the medical staff and were considered to be bedpan carriers. The nineteenth century was a time of nursing reforms and broadening the scope of the duties of the nurse.

Nursing reforms were a crisis at Guy’s as the medical staff felt their authority was being undermined. Florence Nightingale had been advocating that matrons should have control over the nursing staff. And doctors were concerned that they would lose control over the management of the hospital.

Keir Waddington, professor of history at Cardiff University comments about the resolution of the nursing dispute in The Social History of Medicine. He noted that the reforms were finally accepted with modifications. Initially, the doctors had demanded that they be part of joint management and this was also accepted by all parties.

When I was a mere stripling of a medical student, many of my professors were originally from the UK and spoke to us of the tradition of the “Great Men of Guy’s.” But there were women, too:

STEPHANIE AMIEL is a physician, well known for her research in type 1 diabetes.

DAME RACHEL CROWDY commanded the Voluntary Aid Detachments in Belgium and France from 1914-1019.

PATRICIA BATTY SHAW was a medical social worker at Guy’s and became well known as a medical historian.

MARY SHERIDAN was a pediatrician who is a pioneer in the study of child development.

Guy’s has also been home to many notable people, such as John Keats, the poet who was a trained surgeon. Ludwig Wittgenstein the philosopher, served as a porter at Guy’s during World War II, C.S. Forester the novelist was a medical student but did not graduate.

In 1998, Guy’s medical school became part of King’s College School of Medicine and Dentistry and formed the Guy’s, Kings & St. Thomas’ School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences. It is now well known as the largest medical, teaching and research center in Europe.



Dr. Curmudgeon suggests “Bitter Medicine”, Dr. Eugene Eisman’s story of his experiences–from the humorous to the intense—as a young army doctor serving in the Vietnam War.
Bitter Medicine by Eugene H. Eisman, M.D. –on Amazon

Doctor Curmudgeon® is Diane Batshaw Eisman, M.D., a physician-satirist. This column originally appeared on SERMO, the leading global social network for doctors.
SERMO www.sermo.com

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