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The Magnanimous Professional Life and Tragic Demise of J. H. Douglas, MD

Authors

  • Brandon G. Bentz MD,

    Corresponding author
    1. Division of Otolaryngology–-Head and Neck Surgery, Department of Surgery, University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.A.
    • Dr. Brandon G. Bentz, Department of Surgery, Division of Otolaryngology–-Head and Neck Surgery, University of Utah School of Medicine, 3C 120, 50 North Medical Drive, Salt Lake City, UT, 84132, U.S.A.
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  • Elliot W. Strong MD,

    1. Head and Neck Service, Department of Surgery, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, NY, New York, U.S.A.
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  • Gayle E. Woodson MD,

    1. Division of Otolaryngology–-Head and Neck Surgery, Department of Surgery, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, Springfield, Illinois, U.S.A.
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  • Jatin P. Shah MD

    1. Head and Neck Service, Department of Surgery, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, NY, New York, U.S.A.
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  • Accepted for presentation at the American Laryngological Association Annual Meeting, April 30 to May 1, 2004.

Abstract

Objectives/Hypothesis: Many of the hallmarks of a very successful medical career, such as recognition as a leader in a field of medicine, making important contributions to medical knowledge of the day, and a steadfast dedication to patient care, had already been achieved by Dr. John Hancock Douglas. Therefore, the mystery surrounding his dismissal from membership of the newly formed American Laryngology Society (now the ALA) and his tragic demise stand in stark contrast. We discuss the model professional life and mysterious but tragic final days of this very important laryngologist of the 19th century.

Study Design/Methods: A historical vignette.

Results: Dr. Douglas's professional qualities of leadership of the American Sanitary Commission, his various contributions to the advancement of medical knowledge during that era, and his steadfast dedication to the care of his patients represent highlights of a very honorable professional career. His final demise, bankrupt, in an ill state of health, and stripped of his professional appointment to the ALA, seems an unjust end to the life of this notable and magnanimous laryngologist.

Conclusions: We offer this historical review of the life and demise of Dr. John H. Douglas as a tribute to this important figure in our profession's history.

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