WLM ID: aikg | Catalog Record
Edward William Murphy (1802-1877) was a London obstetrician who quickly adopted the use of chloroform after its introduction in 1848. While some anesthetic inhalers covered both the nose and the mouth, Murphy’s inhaler utilized a mouthpiece only. Theorizing that a woman could more easily be given an overdose of chloroform with both her nose and mouth covered by the inhaler, Murphy believed his mouthpiece-only inhaler was safer. The flattened, funnel-shaped part is the mouthpiece of the inhaler. It is attached to a compartment with a removable cap. A sponge soaked with ether was inserted into the compartment through this opening. To provide pain relief, Murphy recommended that the woman in labor apply the inhaler to her mouth and inhale just before and during contractions, and but not between contractions. He also advised using chloroform only when the pain became too great.
This Murphy Inhaler was donated in honor of then WLM Librarian Patrick P. Sim, MLS by WLM Honorary Curator George Bause, MD.