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Views & Reviews From the Frontline

Medical heresy: ditch the eponyms

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: (Published 04 April 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e2503
  1. Des Spence, general practitioner, Glasgow
  1. destwo{at}

There are hundreds of eponymous medical syndromes and signs, often with fantastic double barrelled names with exotic connections to central Europe. It is odd that there are few signs named after Smith, Jones, or Brown. I like to imagine that the eponyms were made up by Victorian doctors who lived in smoggy and grim towns like Sheffield, Sunderland, and Middlesbrough to give the signs more gravitas.

Today, MacLeod’s Clinical Examination is still the bible of clinical examination and heaves with these signs. In timeless tradition the medical gunners still squeal …

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