Medicine: Pain & Patience-Killer

Anesthesia has advanced far beyond the ether mask and morphine stage of 20 years ago. Today, during critical operations, e.g., inside the heart, as many as eight different painkillers may be administered to ease the patient's lot and the surgeon's task. Even in minor surgery, drugs are used lavishly to prevent discomfort. But even the best of the new techniques carry their own hazards. Last week two top Boston anesthesia experts, Henry K. Beecher and Donald Todd, laid down evidence that modern anesthesia is killing not only pain but is still killing a shockingly high percentage of patients.

Their findings, reported in...

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