Source: Hospital Doctor, March 2003

Dr John Snow named the greatest doctor

Dr John Snow has been voted the greatest doctor ever in a Hospital Doctor poll.

Readers were invited to consider a number of doctors worthy of the title, but it was the nomination of Dr Snow by Dr Guy Jackson, a research fellow in anaesthesia in London, that attracted the most support. He was backed by an active campaign from the John Snow Society.

Dr Snow (1813-1858), a GP based in Soho, developed the technique of anaesthesia.

According to Dr Jackson, Dr Snow's book On The Inhalation Of The Ether Vapours 'was the definitive work of its day, using scientific principles and practice more akin to those used today than those used by his contemporaries'.

He was called on by Queen Victoria to provide analgesia for childbirth. She described his care as 'most efficacious'.

Dr Snow also developed drugs including chloroform, theories on the transmission of cholera, and was seen as one of the founders of intensive care medicine.

In second place was Hippocrates (460-370BC), who taught that illness was not down to the influence of evil spirits and that doctors could help through evidence-based medicine. He wrote more than 70 books and introduced the oath.

Dame Cicely Saunders (1918-), founder of the modern hospice movement, came third.


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