BetaThis search tool is in development. Find out more.

Open drop ether (part one). No. 2.

Thomson, Margaret.

Available online

Download options


Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0)
You can use this work for any purpose, as long as it is not primarily intended for or directed to commercial advantage or monetary compensation. You should also provide attribution to the original work, source and licence.
Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) terms and conditions
Credit: Open drop ether (part one). No. 2. Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0)

About this work


An unidentified patient is shown with a gauze mask covering their face whilst ether is dropped on to it. First section; Essential apparatus . The exact construction of the mask is shown.The second section Premedication ; the patient is rested for 24 hours in bed; given no food for 4 hours or drinks for 2. Enemas are unnecessary. A female patient is prepared for surgery. She has morphine and atrophine. This is timed and added to her chart.The next section, course of anaesthesia; begins with the importance of speaking to the patient, providing reassurance having a good bedside manner in order that the patient co-operates. Scrolling text reminds the practioner of the four stages of anaesthesia. The first is progressive loss of consciousness, the second is unconsciousness but not full anaesthesia. The third stage is marked by automatic breathing. The fourth stage is when the respiratory centre fails and breathing stops. Each stage is illustrated in detail focussing on the observation of breathing and eyes. As ether is an irritant and the patient conscious, she coughs and the anaesthetist pauses. The second and third stages progress uneventfully. An artificial airway is inserted. Additional ether is applied (surgery is not shown). Her breathing changes and is remarked upon.The following section entitled Pitfalls of ether anaesthesia , shows a comedy of errors about what you shouldn t do. Firstly the anaesthetist hasn t stoppered the ether securely and so the agent spills out over his hands - luckily not over the patient. Ether is dropped too rapidly onto the mask and the patient panics and chokes. Next the patient starts struggling, even though unconscious (apparently common in nervous patients). Ether is continuously applied. Stops abruptly.


[Place of publication not identified], s.n.], [1944.]

Physical description

1 Digibeta (18:25 mins): sd., b&w.; PAL. 1 VHS (18:25 mins): sd., b&w.; PAL. 1 DVD (18:25 mins): sd., b&w.; PAL. 1 videocassette (HDCAM SR) (14:05 min.) : sound, color, PAL.

Copyright note



HDCAM SR element was created in January 2013 as a result of a client tele-cine.
Conservation and access copies made from the film collection comprising of 55 items donated by Nuffield Department of Anaesthetics, Oxford, to the Wellcome Trust in 2008. In 1937, Lord Nuffield established a clinical chair of anaesthesia in Oxford amidst some controversy that anaesthesia was even an academic discipline. The collection is a mixture of clinical and educational films made or held by the department to supplement their teaching dating from the late 1930s onwards.

Creator/production credits

Direction by Margaret Thomson, Photography by A.E. Jeakins. Produced by Realist Film Unit. Made with the co-operation of the Department of Anaesthetics, Westminister Hospital, London.



  • English

Permanent link

We’re improving the information on this page. Find out more.