Intended for healthcare professionals


Joseph Charles Stoddart

BMJ 2020; 368 doi: (Published 27 February 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;368:m701
  1. Anna Batchelor,
  2. Alan Craft

Joseph Stoddart (“Joe”), who has died aged 87, was in the 1960s one of the pioneers of the specialty of intensive care. Today there are around 200 intensive care units across the UK, 3000 consultant intensivists and over 200 <thin >000 patients are admitted each year, with increasingly successful outcomes. The initial stimulus for this development came from patients who had respiratory failure and grew out of the major polio epidemic in Denmark in 1952, where iron lungs were developed to breathe for patients while they recovered. Successful immunisation against polio eradicated this cause of lung failure, but the experience gained with polio led on to the development of much more effective mechanisms of ventilator support. Iron lungs used an external negative pressure to inflate the lungs but they were not very effective. Positive pressure ventilation by inserting a tube into the windpipe and inflating the lungs, initially by hand but later by machine, revolutionised the outlook for those whose lungs had failed. Stoddart was at …

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