James Scott Robson

BMJ 2010; 341 doi: (Published 07 July 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c3535
  1. Andrew Doig,
  2. Anne Lambie,
  3. Robin Winney

    Clinician who ended hepatitis epidemics in dialysis units

    In 1958 dialysis was beginning to be used in the treatment of acute renal failure, and James Scott Robson and his surgical colleague Hugh Dudley were asked to organise an acute renal failure service at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh. The service, one of the first in the United Kingdom, started in 1959 and needed unprecedented collaboration among the medical, nursing, and laboratory services. Robson died recently aged 88.

    The service resulted in an immediate 50% reduction in deaths from acute renal failure and paved the way for the first successful kidney transplantation in the UK, which was performed in 1960 by Michael Woodruff. Initially, transplantation was carried out in the Royal Infirmary, and Robson played an important part in the care of the patients before and after operation.

    Government report

    In 1964 chronic intermittent dialysis for patients with end stage renal failure was established in Edinburgh by Robson at about the same time as similar programmes in other centres in the UK. Between 1969 and 1971 an outbreak of viral hepatitis in the unit resulted in several deaths among patients and staff. …

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