Surgical accountability in the 1880s: the death of Susan Nixon

Watters, Greg R. and Walker, David 2005, Surgical accountability in the 1880s: the death of Susan Nixon, ANZ Journal of Surgery, vol. 75, no. 8, pp. 719-722.

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Title Surgical accountability in the 1880s: the death of Susan Nixon
Author(s) Watters, Greg R.
Walker, David
Journal name ANZ Journal of Surgery
Volume number 75
Issue number 8
Start page 719
End page 722
Publisher Wiley Interscience
Place of publication New York, NY.
Publication date 2005
ISSN 1445-1433
1445-2197
Keyword(s) history
legislation and jurisprudence
medical error
newspaper
Summary Susan Nixon died in 1881 following a surgical error. Her surgeon, Dr W. E. Warren, excised a normal 7-month gravid uterus under the misapprehension that he was removing a tubular pregnancy. It is believed that Mrs Nixon was the first woman in Australia to have an abdominal hysterectomy and the second to have a live Caesarean section. The surgical misadventure that resulted in Mrs Nixon's death became a public scandal, which gained currency through both parliamentary debate and the popular press.

The purpose of referring to this case is to explore the mechanisms of accountability that surgeons faced in the 1880s − a decade of rapid change in the practice of surgery. The response of late nineteenth century society to surgical error and the resultant reaction of the medical profession have resonances that are relevant to surgeons practising today.


Notes Published Online: 3 Aug 2005
Language eng
Field of Research 210303 Australian History (excl Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History)
111402 Obstetrics and Gynaecology
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©1999-2008, John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30008925

Document type: Journal Article
Collection: School of History, Heritage and Society
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