Patient Case Study: Critchell, Thomas

In-patient, 1859


Hospital Dorset County Hospital Patient type In-patient
Number 4646 Date admitted 21 Jul 1859
Name Critchell, Thomas Renewed 15 Sep & 10 Nov, both by Captain Damer
Age 36 Under whose care Mr. Tapp
Occupation Carter Disease Injury to knee
Parish Came Discharged 1 Dec 1859
Recommended by Mr. Wm. Manley Outcome Made O[ut] P[atient]
Note There is no record of Thomas Critchell being registered as an out patient
Source Dorset History Centre, Dorset County Hospital in-patient admissions register 1847-59, NG/HH/DO(C)/5/2/1



  1. On 19 Jan 1860 the Dorset County Hospital management committee heard a complaint against the surgeon Mr. Tapp, presented by Revd. Lionel Dawson Damer, concerning Thomas Critchell of Came. Critchell asserted that his leg was dislocated; Mr. Tapp said it was not. The complaint was dismissed by the Committee after investigation. On 26 Jan 1860, the Rev. Damer again came before the Committee stating that Mr. Johnson, a surgeon of Piddlehinton, had examined Critchell and had given a certificate asserting that the leg was dislocated. Mr. Tapp proposed that Critchell should be sent up to London to be examined by an eminent surgeon, at the hospital’s expense, and the Committee agreed. It appears that the house surgeon accompanied Critchell to London. The hospital’s balance sheet for 1860 shows “House Surgeons expences [sic] to London &c. relative to a Patient – £13 5s. 6d.” [Dorset History Centre, Dorset County Hospital, management committee minutes 1856-62, NG/HH/DO(C)/1/2/2, entries for 19/01/1860 and 26/01/1860; treasurers accounts 1856-63, NG/HH/DO(C)/4/1/3, balance sheet for 1860]
  1. On 2 Feb 1860 the Committee recorded the following report from William Fergusson, professor of surgery at King’s College Hospital: “16 George St. Hanover Sqe. 31st 1860. Having this day examined Thos. Critchell, late an inmate in the Dorset County Hospital, Dorchester, and enquired into the history of his case, I am of opinion that the present condition of his left knee is the result of the injury of the joint, which he sustained in July last, and of the violent and serious inflammation, which followed. There is no evidence that there was either fracture or dislocation, and the great mischief which has ensued must be attributed entirely to the sprain, wrench or possible partial displacement of a cartilage (semilunax) within the joint. The inflammation and disorganisations within the joint have been such that the present condition of the limb may be considered a happy result of judicious treatment. Had more or less been attempted the loss of limb or life would have been the possible or probable result. The joint is now stiff (or anchylosed in common surgical language) but a slight movement is perceptible. The line of the limb is very favourable, far better than is usually secured in such cases – and the slight how outwards is not unusual. Possibly had the patient been more obedient to the surgeons’ orders, and not thrown off the splint, even this slight bend might not have been observable. Altogether in my experience I have never seen a more favourable result from so much formidable mischief as had at one time been present ; and under the circumstances the patient and his friends should be highly satisfied and grateful for all that has been done, and that worse evils have been thereby averted. Wm. Fergusson, Professor of Surgery in King’s College &c. &c.” [Dorset History Centre, Dorset County Hospital, management committee minutes 1856-62, NG/HH/DO(C)/1/2/2, entry for 02/02/1860]