Case Book of Robert Garner Surgeon at the North Staffordshire Infirmary

Case Book of Robert Garner Surgeon at the North Staffordshire Infirmary

Case Book of Robert Garner Surgeon at the North Staffordshire Infirmary 1854

SoTCA SD 1321
©Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent Archive Service

This is the case history of Samuel Weston, a young boy who was suffering from lead poisoning. His job was to dip the pottery onto a lead glaze before it was fired and would in this way have absorbed too much of the metal.

The North Staffordshire Infirmary was one of the first hospitals in the country to draw a large part of its funding from working people and many of the cases recorded by Garner relate to accidents and disease at work. The diagnosis ’Colica Pictinum’ Painters colic’ reveals how industrial disease was accepted as routine.


1855 Jan 12 Samuel Weston Dr Wilson
Samuel Weston a worker in the lead at 12 an unhealthy look-
ing lad admitted today under Dr Wilson. Colica Pictinum.
States that he has been a dipper for two years: a month
ago whilst at work was suddenly siezed with a violent pain
in the belly, which in a day or two was followed by an
aching pain In both knees. Belly continued painful and
began to swell. Two or three days after his legs began to lose
their power. Had a violent belly ache one before. Bowels
usually costive.
On admission there was a very distinct blue line along
the lower gum and teeth: legs completely paralyzed. Belly
rather swollen. The units quite dropped. Is unable to stand
or move his hands. Complains of much pain in the belly
Ordered Pil Col Co ij in Ol Riceni om – Baln Calidum Lin Hulmitt

Feby 10 Since last report has been gradually improving. Pain in the
belly occasionally very severe relieved by opiate draught Jany
15th was ordered Mist 5 alin et R Hyoscyam. ON the 25th Pot.Iodidi
gr ij Decoct Sarza ter. He is now ordered to be galvanized
in the hands and feet. Can stand but can not use the hands
Cont Mist Sarzce et Pil Col Co
13 Better more use in the hands
16 Can clasp his hand close Blue line still distinct
17 The left hand ordered to be put out flat on a splint
19 Emp Lytta to the right wrist. Galvanism through the extensor muscles of the legs
22 Can straighten the hands better More power over his legs
26 Is able to walk a little without crutches Can straighten the left
hand much better than the right Blue line still distinct
Mar 2 Improving. Walks much better Is not yet able to
bend his hand up at all
8 About the same. Ordered strychnine gr ½ in pil ter die
16 No twitching produced. Balneum sulphuris alt nocte
24 A little twitching in the toes. Continued the same treatment.
Ap 7 Improves slowly A good deal of twitching in the toes
15 Ordered a blister on each wrist
25 Not much improved Made outpatient Walks about pretty
well but puts his feet down as if he had no control over them
Blue line on the teeth still distinct. R Pot Iodidi gr iij Recoct Sarzce ter Pil Col Co ij cu
May 29 Readmitted. No improvement, cannot straighten the
hands at all Inf Rosce Co ter Lin terebinth
July 20th Discharged Walks better and has much more use in
the hands

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