Ralph M. Waters, M.D.*
RALPH M. WATERS, M.D.
Dr. Ralph M. Waters was born in North Bloomfield, Ohio, in 1883. He received the degree of
bachelor of arts from Western Reserve University in 1907 and that of doctor of medicine from
the same school in 1912. He began the practice of medicine in Sioux City, Iowa, in 1913. He
immediately became interested in methods of producing anesthesia for patients of the local
surgeons, and in 1916 he decided to devote full time to the practice of anesthesia. He also began
to study carbon-dioxide absorption; in 1923 his classic paper on this subject appeared.
In 1924, Dr. Waters accepted an invitation to take over an anesthetic practice in Kansas City,
Missouri. He remained there until 1927, when he accepted the post of assistant professor of
surgery in charge of anesthesia at the University of Wisconsin. There he introduced the technique
of carbon-dioxide absorption. He also began to instruct resident physicians in anesthesiology and
this led to his appointment in the University of Wisconsin as the first professor of
anesthesiology. Dr. Waters and his colleagues worked on many problems encompassing the
physiology and pharmacology of anesthesia. They were the first to use cyclopropane clinically as
an anesthetic agent; they advocated the use of an inflatable cuff on an endotracheal tube and
experimented with drugs administered intravenously. They were among the earliest to use
tribromoethyl alcohol, and they participated in many other important developments.
Dr. Waters held many offices including the presidency of the American Board of
Anesthesiology, Inc., and the American Society of Anesthesiologists. In 1944, he was awarded
the Hickman Medal by the Royal Society of Medicine in England. He was the second to receive
the Distinguished Service Award of the American Society of Anesthesiologists (1946).
Dr. Waters retired from the practice of anesthesiology in 1949 and moved to Orlando, Florida.
Faulconer A, Keys TE. Foundations of Anesthesiology. Vol. 1. Springfield, IL: C.C. Thomas, 1965.