1908 The Lancet  
1029 drowsiness and contraction of the pupils which he observed were due to the opium in his son's medicine. On the following morning Mr. F. H. Fawcett was called in. According to his evidence he found the patient comatose, with pin-point pupils, a temperature of 960 F., and stertorous breathing. He found traces of albumin in the urine but did not consider that there were indications of the kidneys being affected sufficiently to account for the state in which the man then was or to account for
more » ... is death which took place that night. Dr. G. C. Low, pathologist at the West London Hospital, who had held a post-mortem examination by order of the coroner, gave evidence that he had found no disease except that the heart was flabby with thin walls; the lungs had spots of tubercle, and the substance of the kidneys was slightly fatty but there was no Bright's disease. He was of opinion that the diarrhoea was not of a typhoid but of a tuberculous nature, and that there was no disease to account for the death which, he had no doubt, was due to opium poisoning. After a prolonged inquiry the jury found a verdict of "Opium poisoning due to misadventure," adding a rider by which they requested the coroner " to caution severely the druggist against prescribing medicine indiscriminately and especially for giving poison without caution." The druggist had given evidence after being informed by the coroner that in the circumstances he need not do so. He took up the position that he did not transgress the law in handing to the woman a medicine for diarrhoea when she asked for one but that he would have done wrong if he had examined the patient or had joined in a consultation with regard to him, and he considered that what he had done did not amount to making a diagnosis. With regard to the question of selling a poison without so describing it on the label, he relied on the exemption in the Pharmacy Act, 1868, Section 17. applying to poisons forming part of " ingredients dispensed by a person registered" under the Act. It was then pointed out to him that even if this application of the term " dispensing " were correct, the exemption only applied when medicine was dispensed under conditions which included the entry of the ingredients in a book with the name of the person to whom it was sold, and he admitted that he had made no such entry. For this omission he had no explanation except that it was an error. Discussion took place with regard to the terms of the Apothecaries Act and the Pharmacy Act so far as they might apply to conduct such as that admitted by Mr. Thomson, and it was shown that they were not susceptible of easy interpretation. The coroner, in summing up to the jury, laid stress upon the gravity of the position in which Mr. Thomson had placed himself by what he had done. He was not, however, of the opinion that his conduct amounted to criminal negligence such as would involve the charge of manslaughter, but rather to recklessness to be met by such censure as the jury afterwards found to be due. It will be enough to add that in the interests of the public, of the medical profession, and of the druggists the position of the last named should be more strictly defined, and that their responsibility in attempting to treat disease should be made so clear that any approach to doing so would be avoided by them. Erratzezrz -The name of J. B. Footner, Tunbridge Wells, was wrongly included among those of subscribers of one guinea last week. It should have been inserted in the two-guinea section of subscriptions. Looking Back. FROM THE LANCET, SATURDAY, April 3rd, 1830. ACTION OF ASPARAGUS ON THE CIRCULATION.-Digitalis and prussic acid possess the property of weakening the action of the heart, but the employment of these medicines is frequently prevented by the gastric irritation they produce. M. Broussais proposes, as a substitute for these remedies, asparagus, which is perfectly inoffensive to the stomach, and acts as a sedative upon the heart. If a patient, who is suffering from hypertrophy and excessive action of the heart, eat asparagus, M. Broussais assures us he will find relief; and if the remedy be discontinued, the habitual symptoms will return. Syrup of the green ends of asparagus, like the plant itself, has the power of diminishing the action of the heart, without annoying the stomach. A man, having hypertrophy of the heart, perceived a very decided alleviation of his sufferiogs while he was in the habit of eating asparagus, and he consequently prepared a syrup of the plant for use when it was out of season. A physician whom M. Broussais does not name, but to whom he is indebted for this discovery, collected many cases in support of this statement ; and the Professor of Val-de Grae declares that it is confirmed by the result of his own experience.-Ann. de la -MM..PAs. ______________ VITAL STATISTICS. HEALTH OF ENGLISH TOWNS. IN 76 of the largest English towns 8583 births and 5405 deaths were registered during the week ending March 28th. The mean annual rate of mortality in these towns, which had been equal to 17-6, 17 -2, and 16'9 9 per 1000 in the three preceding weeks, rose again to 17' 4 in the week under notice. During the 13 weeks of the past quarter the annual death-rate in thee towns avdraged 18 ° 0 per 1000 ; the mean rate in London during the same period did not exceel 17'6. The lowest annual death-rates in the 76 towns last week were 95 in E'!'st Ham, 9'6
doi:10.1016/s0140-6736(00)67670-5 fatcat:fcezz7ca4fgxhadqotowmogg4i