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Rupert Walter Hornabrook - Australia's first full-time anaesthetist

Department of Anaesthesia, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Melbourne, Victoria


Rupert Walter Hornabrook, born in 1871, was the first physician in Australia to devote his medical practice solely to anaesthesia. He was appointed to the Royal Melbourne Hospital in 1909, after an adventurous earlier career which ranged from service in plague hospitals in India to the Boer War in South Africa. Hornabrook was a colourful character whose work in anaesthesia included popularizing the use of the ethyl chloride-ether sequence in the early 1900s, when chloroform and closed inhalers were the norm. He was also a vigorous campaigner for the recognition of anaesthesia as a branch of medicine in its own right.

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