Posts Tagged ‘Dr. Pritchard’

History, Homicide, and the Healing Hand

November 27, 2009

by E. J. Wagner

A version of this article appeared in a 2004 supplement of The Lancet

When a doctor does go wrong he is the first of criminals. He has nerve and he has knowledge.”—Sherlock Holmes, in “The Adventure of the Speckled Band”

Even a casual stroll through history in search of doctors enmeshed in criminous events is richly rewarded. Early anatomists, like Vesalius, found it necessary to illegally retrieve subjects of their specialties from public gibbets.

The need for anatomical specimens in the 18th century led to a brisk business in stolen cadavers, and to stirring events like the notorious Doctors’ Mob in New York City in 1778. This was not a gathering of inflamed physicians, but a group of terrified medical practitioners driven into hiding from hostile, rampaging citizens. (more…)