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Should eponyms be abandoned? No

BMJ 2007; 335 doi: (Published 30 August 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;335:425

Should eponyms be abandoned? Abandon that idea!

I read with interest the article in the article in last months BMJ
'Should eponyms be abandoned?' And found my self re-living memories of
sitting in the library for hours on end trying to commit to memory Downs
Syndrome, Conn's Syndrome, Salter - Harris classification and the hundreds
more before my medical finals. I remember thinking to myself there must be
an easier to classify diseases than the name of the individual credited
for discovering it.

I found the argument that certain individuals like Reiter being
involved in the Nazi regieme a stimualting one for a reason why we should
not use this particular eponym to refer to the type of reactive arthritis
he described. It certainly lends it self to the argument of whether we
should use any of the information Nazi doctors discovered in modern
medicine. This is an ethical question which still causes much debate and I
think goes beyind the question of the use of eponyms in medicine.

I personally found myself agreeing with Judith Whitworth that these
eponyms though hard to commit to memory are part of our medcial history.
They celebrate the spirit of medicine with the endeavour to persue
research and make discoveries that will push medical practice forward. We
do not often look back at the individual that made the discovery but what
it does for the practice of medicine. It is unfortunate that some
individuals from which eponyms were derived may not have been rightfully
deservied of the honour. However they were given them and they are now
part of the rich tapestry of medical history which we have all suscribed
too, so I for one am happy to learn about Addisons disease and Parkinsons

Competing interests:
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

06 September 2007
Christopher J McAloon
FY1 Medicine
Selly Oak Hospital Birmingham