R A Cowley, the “Golden Hour,” the “Momentary Pause,” and the “Third Space”
R Adams Cowley (1917‐1991), the Baltimore thoracic and trauma surgeon, was an outstanding politician and promoter of emergency medical services. His skills included the effective use of language, for example, identifying the critical time immediately after injury as a “golden hour,” and describing shock as a “momentary pause in the act of death.” Conversely, Cowley avoided the tendency of some contemporaries to justify massive crystalloid infusion by invoking a “third space.” Cowley is often assumed to have originated the first two phrases, but, in fact, their histories go back at least to the 19th century and illustrate the development of surgical science. The “third space” is often assumed to have originated with Cowley’s contemporary, Tom Shires (1925‐2007), but, in fact, neither of them used the phrase to describe Shires’ controversial theories about an extracellular fluid deficit after trauma. Reviewing the actual etymology of these terms may help clarify the history of the underlying scientific ideas and enable more effective communication in the future.
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Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: Department of Surgery, Maine Medical Center, Portland, Maine, USA
Publication date: December 1, 2017
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