Selection of hazardous fields in medicine is difficult since no aspects of the practice of medicine are free from hazard. The taking of an aspirin tablet may lead to death from hypersensitivity; the simple administration of a general anesthetic agent carries a mortality risk of one in 5,000; the setting of a fracture may lead to fatal fat embolism; penetration of the pleura in a simple therapeutic pneumothorax may produce circulatory collapse, at times fatal; and the administration of penicillin is producing fatal anaphylactic reactions in increasing frequency. Medicine is indeed a hazardous profession, and the yearly advances in the diagnosis and treatment of disease, despite the overall benefit to mankind, burden the physician with the danger of serious and irreparable damage to the patient in spite of the utmost care.
Two significant papers have appeared during the past year emphasizing the need of caution by the physician. In the