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Source: Medical and Surgical Report of Bellevue and Allied Hospitals in the City of New York
Source type: government document
Document type: public address
Document title: “Injury by Electricity”
Author(s): Moorhead, John J.
Editor(s): Norrie, Van Horne; Hartwell, John A.; Smith, A. Alexander; Nammack, Charles E.
Volume number: 4
Publisher: none given
Place of publication: none given
Year of publication: [1910?]
Pagination: 379-87 (excerpt below includes only page 381)

Moorhead, John J. “Injury by Electricity.” Medical and Surgical Report of Bellevue and Allied Hospitals in the City of New York. Ed. Van Horne Norrie, John A. Hartwell, A. Alexander Smith, and Charles E. Nammack. Vol. 4. [n.p.]: [n.p.], [1910?]: pp. 379-87.
excerpt of address
John J. Moorhead (public addresses); execution (by electrocution); Leon Czolgosz (execution).
Named persons
Leon Czolgosz [misspelled below]; William McKinley; Edward A. Spitzka [misspelled below].
From page 379: Read before the Surgical Section of the New York Academy of Medicine, March, 1909. Reprinted from the Journal of the American Medical Association, April 2, 1910.

From title page: 1909-1910.

From title page: Edited by Van Horne Norrie, M. D.; John A. Hartwell, M. D.; A. Alexander Smith, M. D.; Charles E. Nammack, M. D.

From page 379: John J. Moorhead, M.D. (Instructor in Surgery, New York Post-Graduate Medical School and Hospital; Attending Surgeon, Red Cross Hospital; Assistant Visiting Surgeon, Harlem Hospital, New York.).


Injury by Electricity [excerpt]

Death from electricity is usually sudden, and is best represented by the execution of criminals, lightning stroke and unexpected contact with highly charged materials, the body completing and short-circuiting two conductors. Under such circumstances there may or may not be decided external evidence of what has occurred, any such taking the form of burns of varying degree, areas of lividity or ecchymosis, or simple crimsoning to mark the place of entrance or exit of the current. It is, however, very unusual for a lethal dose of electricity to fail to leave some visible evidence at the points of contact. Postmortem, such cases are surprisingly free from gross microscopic changes, and the most careful search of all the tissues has as yet failed to give any adequately uniform cause of death. The findings in general are not unlike those following drowning or suffocation. The body of Czolgos, assassin of President McKinley, was subjected to the most minute scrutiny, especially by Spitka’s examination of the brain and cord, but nothing more than the customary fluidity and venous stasis of the blood with flaccidity of the heart muscle was found. In a still more recent autopsy of an electrocuted murderer the same negative findings were recorded. Observers appear to have two main theories to account for death under such circumstances; one being that the heart muscle is paralyzed by a tetanic spasm analogous to that observable in skeletal muscle under high voltage; and the other theory, that there is a definite cellular destruction, especially of the vital centers. In connection with this last, it has occurred to me that the disintegration that seemingly takes place may generate toxic materials, thus adding a chemical to a mechanical irritation that almost immediately kills. Death from low tension current is by heart fibrillation; heart and respiration alike fail from lethal medium tensions; and respiratory failure is the cause of death in high tension accidents. . . .



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