We're unable to sign you in at this time. Please try again in a few minutes.
We were able to sign you in, but your subscription(s) could not be found. Please try again in a few minutes.
There may be a problem with your account. Please contact the AMA Service Center to resolve this issue.
Contact the AMA Service Center:
Telephone: 1 (800) 262-2350 or 1 (312) 670-7827  *   Email: subscriptions@jamanetwork.com
Error Message ......
Moments in Surgical History |

Harvey Cushing's Open and Thorough Documentation of Surgical Mishaps at the Dawn of Neurologic Surgery

Katherine Latimer, BS; Courtney Pendleton, BS; Alessandro Olivi, MD; Aaron A. Cohen-Gadol, MD, MSc; Henry Brem, MD; Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa, MD
Arch Surg. 2011;146(2):226-232. doi:10.1001/archsurg.2010.319.
Text Size: A A A
Published online


The recognition of surgical mishaps and their correction in subsequent cases was critical in the evolution of the discipline of neurosurgery during its infancy. The Johns Hopkins Hospital surgical records from 1896 to 1912 were reviewed, and 30 cases documenting the self-reported surgical errors of Harvey Cushing, MD, were selected for further analysis. We demonstrate that alongside pioneering profound advancements in medical care, Cushing openly acknowledged and described significant instances of human error, mistakes in judgment and technique, and equipment and supply oversights, regardless of whether these events affected patient outcome. Mistakes were analyzed and recorded to be drawn on as lessons to improve future care. This review defines the attitude toward documenting and reporting medical errors present at the founding of the field of neurosurgery as one of forthright acknowledgment in the pursuit of innovation.

Figures in this Article

Sign in

Purchase Options

• Buy this article
• Subscribe to the journal
• Rent this article ?

First Page Preview

View Large
First page PDF preview


Place holder to copy figure label and caption

Dr Harvey Cushing's original note in the file of a human error case stating, “Unquestionably overlying an Endothelioma a condn [abbreviation for condition ] unrecognized in 1910 by me. H.C.”

Graphic Jump Location




Also Meets CME requirements for:
Browse CME for all U.S. States
Accreditation Information
The American Medical Association is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The AMA designates this journal-based CME activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM per course. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. Physicians who complete the CME course and score at least 80% correct on the quiz are eligible for AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM.
Note: You must get at least of the answers correct to pass this quiz.
Please click the checkbox indicating that you have read the full article in order to submit your answers.
Your answers have been saved for later.
You have not filled in all the answers to complete this quiz
The following questions were not answered:
Sorry, you have unsuccessfully completed this CME quiz with a score of
The following questions were not answered correctly:
Commitment to Change (optional):
Indicate what change(s) you will implement in your practice, if any, based on this CME course.
Your quiz results:
The filled radio buttons indicate your responses. The preferred responses are highlighted
For CME Course: A Proposed Model for Initial Assessment and Management of Acute Heart Failure Syndromes
Indicate what changes(s) you will implement in your practice, if any, based on this CME course.


Some tools below are only available to our subscribers or users with an online account.

7 Citations

Sign in

Purchase Options

• Buy this article
• Subscribe to the journal
• Rent this article ?

Related Content

Customize your page view by dragging & repositioning the boxes below.

Articles Related By Topic
Related Collections