A noteworthy case note

LHSA’s case note collections are steadily being looked through to check they are in the correct order. During the ordering of the Alexander Miles collection, there have been several interesting finds, of which one is presented for this week’s blog. The Miles collection covers 1909-1924, 15 years being the statutory period for a doctor to be in charge of wards at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh (RIE).

On the reverse of a case note dated 1910, was found a line drawing of an operation in progress. Alexander Miles (1865-1953) worked in wards 5 and 6 of the RIE at this time, carrying out general surgery. At a table in the foreground on the left, an assistant is ready to pass medical equipment across when it is needed. An interesting detail is that all of the staff are wearing gloves except for the man who appears to be carrying out the surgery. Harley Williams noted that Alexander Miles operated without gloves and with his sleeves rolled up, so it is possible that this is him. The drawing is not signed, but presumably it was drawn from life by someone watching the operation and who only had the patient’s case note to write on! 

Drawing thought to show Alexander Miles operating

J.A. Ross, The Edinburgh School of Surgery after Lister, Churchill Livingstone, Edinburgh, London and New York, 1978, pp91-93