Obituaries

Bjørn Ibsen

BMJ 2007; 335 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.39344.561250.BE (Published 27 September 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;335:674
  1. Caroline Richmond

    Founding father of intensive care and hero of the 1952 Copenhagen polio epidemic

    The specialty of intensive care started in Copenhagen in 1952, when Bjørn Ibsen got a relay of doctors to manually ventilate a dying 12-year-old patient with polio.

    Ibsen was working as a freelance anaesthetist as there were no staff posts. The son of a salesman, he had been educated at Øregård Gymnasium in Copenhagen, obtaining his baccalaureate in 1933, and Copenhagen University, qualifying in 1940. In his final year he gave his first anaesthetic, using the then standard equipment of a bag of ether, tongue forceps, and a mouth opener. Anaesthetics were delivered under the surgeon's supervision by a nurse or student.

    At a Jutland hospital he trained in radiology, surgery, pathology, and gynaecology. He won a biochemistry prize in 1944. The hospital's only anaesthetic equipment was an Ombredanne inhaler, an ether device. He went to Massachusetts General Hospital in 1949 for specialist anaesthetic training. His wife, Ingrid, a nurse, accompanied him on the outward boat journey; on the ship back she met Mogens Bjømboe, deputy to Hans Christian Larssen, head of the Blegdams Fever Hospital. This was to prove a formative contact.

    Danish hospital culture was …

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