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ElaineMaul
04-05-2007, 4:36 PM
Hi, My g-grandmother died in 1909 and the death certificate says cerebral tumour. She was only 35 with 8 children ranging in age from 13 to 5. My g-grandfather was a stoker at a gas works, so a not very well off working class family. I have no way of knowing if she was under the care of a doctor. These had to be paid for then, didn't they? How would a cerebral tumour have been diagnosed then, without the medical equipment we have now? Might there have been an autopsy, for instance? I'm just curious!
Thanks.
Elaine

Colin Moretti
04-05-2007, 6:42 PM
They would have had X-ray equipment at that time; X-rays were used for medical imaging within just a few months of their discovery in 1895. Whether the equipment was suitable for examining a head I'm not so sure, however. If they could get an image the dose the patient received would horrify a present-day radiologist!

Colin

ElaineMaul
04-05-2007, 8:26 PM
Hi Colin,

Thanks for that information. However, I've often read how working class people had to think twice about calling out the doctor because of the cost, so I wondered who would pay for this? If you couldn't afford to see a doctor in the first place, who might refer you to a hospital? Or didn't it work like that then?
Thanks
Elaine

dcmbarton
04-05-2007, 8:40 PM
I had a relation in a similar position, who died of a cerebral tumour in 1906. He was much older though, but with young children. His wife had already died of chronic alcoholism!

David

Davran
04-05-2007, 10:17 PM
Hi Elaine

I found an article about Gt Ormond St hospital which might be of interest - I know it's for children, but it's quite informative.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/Archive/Article/0%2C4273%2C4340416%2C00.html

I imagine that if a relative was really sick, a doctor would be sent for and the money found somehow. There may have been charities they could call on for help - there were a lot at the time - see http://www.victorianlondon.org/dickens/dickens-charities.htm.

On a quick browse through, this one caught my eye:
FULLER'S ALMSHOUSES, Clerk of Trustees, 36, Newnham-street, W. Houses for old women and pens :confused: (presumably 'pensioners'!, but it did make me laugh)

Mythology
04-05-2007, 11:12 PM
"a doctor would be sent for and the money found somehow."

And they may not have insisted on payment up front.
The fourth wife of one of my fellows died in 1879 - I don't have the death cert, but I have her burial, 29 April 1879.
Over two years later, on 13 July 1881, obviously on his last legs because I have his burial just six days later, 19 July 1881, he made a will. After the usual preamble re funeral expenses etc., the first thing we find is ...
also Dr. Image's Bill still due for attendance on my late Wife

Edit, afterthought:
"I have his burial just six days later, 19 July 1881"
It dawns on me that although I don't have his death cert, I do have a death date not just a burial date, because it's in the probate notes - 16 July 1881.
Personal Estate 85 - not proper poor, but not one of my rich ones. Take away the doctor's bill, an unspecified sum to be repaid to Mr Woolterton "that he has contributed to my support", 10 to a daughter, ditto a daughter-in-law, ditto two grandchildren, and you can see why he refers to what his son's getting as "the residue if any".

Colin Moretti
05-05-2007, 8:20 AM
Hello Elaine

Most (I think) of the large London hospitals were originally set up as charities although patients would pay if they were able; no doubt the same situation applied elsewhere. I would be surprised if that situation did not still apply, at least to an extent, until the NHS was established in 1948. I've seen lots of references to collection days for local hospitals and pictures of nurses and doctors on the street collecting for their hospital. The tradition of local collections still survives to this day, with hospital leagues of friends still active providing extras (equipment, facilities and services) for local establishments.

The post of Almoner in hospital was originally to distribute alms, presumably, for example, to pay hospital bills of poor patients.

Colin

Peter Goodey
05-05-2007, 9:05 AM
Place of death can be informative. If Elaine isn't already aware, a hospital or infirmary may just be shown as an address eg 34 High Street.

ElaineMaul
05-05-2007, 9:01 PM
Thank-you for all the information and the very interesting links. She actually died at 186 South Street, Ponders End, Enfield, Middlesex. The informant was 'JW Brett, widower of the deceased of the same address', so she died at home.

If the diagnosis of brain tumour was determined because of an autopsy, would this normally be mentioned on the death certificate does anyone know?

BTW this has sparked off a desire to find out more about the history of medicine and medical services. Does anyone know of any good books on the subject?

Thanks.
Elaine

Pam Downes
06-05-2007, 1:46 AM
Perhaps not quite what you mean Elaine, but have a look at
Archive CD Books (http://www.parishchest.com/en-gb/dept_651.html) for various medical books. (have to scroll down because they're mixed in with other books.) Don't think I fancy the sound of Dionis' Chirurgical Operations 1733 though. :)
Pam

Karen Newman
06-05-2007, 6:52 AM
Last year, I did a course with the Open University which covered the history of medicine from 1500-1930.

It is highly likely that your ancestor received some sort of medical care on a charitable basis as others have already said.

What I found interesting from the course is that, from the early 19th century, surgeons or 'internal doctors' (as opposed to physicans - external doctors) started to gain more influence in hospitals, especually with the discovery of anaesia in the 1840s (if I remember correctly). And then they started to 'control' admissions on the basis of whether the case was interesting and would further medical knowledge (a bit of a sweeping statement that, I know!). So patients who could not afford med attention would be seen on a charitable basis.

This type of selection still happens today - a female relative was diagnosed with a rare hernia a couple of years ago and her GP said she would be bumped up the queue over loads of men with 'boring' inguinal ones and hey presto she was!

There is a book by Roy Porter - Blood and Guts - which charts the history of medicine but not sure if it covers the period you are interested in.

AnnB
06-05-2007, 7:46 AM
Perhaps not quite what you mean Elaine, but have a look at Achive CD Books (http://www.parishchest.com/en-gb/dept_651.html) for various medical books. (have to scroll down because they're mixed in with other books.) Don't think I fancy the sound of Dionis' Chirurgical Operations 1733 though. :)
Pam

Dionis' Chirurgical Operations isn't exactly bedtime reading but it is fascinating, in it's own way ;)
One thing it does do is make you very appreciative of modern medicine :o

Best wishes
Ann

ElaineMaul
06-05-2007, 12:52 PM
Hi Pam,

Thanks for the link, although just pronouncing 'Chirurgical' is a challenge, let alone being brave enough to read it :)

Further down there is also Buchan's Complete Domestic Medicine 1849 which sounds interesting.
Elaine

ElaineMaul
06-05-2007, 1:00 PM
Hi Karen,

Having done Open University courses as well, I know their material is usually very good. I'll have to keep an eye on e-bay; sometimes OU course material comes up for sale.

One other thing I could possibly try is to see if she was admitted to hospital, although that might be a long shot (and if the records exist, I may have to wait until 2009 for the 100 year privacy thing to expire). I think the hospital would probably be what is now Chase Farm on the Ridgeway in Enfield, although I'm not sure if it was called that then.

Elaine

uksearch
06-05-2007, 1:32 PM
Hi Karen,
SNIP
One other thing I could possibly try is to see if she was admitted to hospital, although that might be a long shot (and if the records exist, I may have to wait until 2009 for the 100 year privacy thing to expire). I think the hospital would probably be what is now Chase Farm on the Ridgeway in Enfield, although I'm not sure if it was called that then.

Elaine
There may be a way round this. It has been discussed here before on the Institutions Forum. There again 2009 is not so very far off;) .

UK

Peter Goodey
06-05-2007, 2:20 PM
100 year closure refers to browsing. It does not mean that you (as next-of-kin) are not entitled to know what the records hold.

Chase Farm doesn't look very likely to me from my reading of the Hospital Records Database, A2A and the workhouse site. But I don't know the geographical area and perhaps you're right.

MythicalMarian
17-03-2008, 8:37 PM
Although this thread may be a bit cold - may I just add that the actual diagnosis of brain pathology at this stage in the early 20th century could have been arrived at by a clinical examination of the neurological signs. Great strides were made in neurology during the mid-to-late 19th century, and if the signs were conclusive, it may not have been necessary to perform an autopsy, or corroborate the diagnosis after death by consultation with a neuropathologist. If the person in question produced certain signs such as speech loss/slurring, palsy, hemiplegia etc., the doctors may well have suspected a space-occupying lesion, even at this relatively early stage.

Just a thought to add to the mix.