- A dictionary of medical eponyms

Ernest Armory Codman

Born  1869
Died  1940

Related eponyms

American physician, born December 30, 1869, Boston; died 1940.

Biography of Ernest Armory Codman

Besides his eponyms, Ernest Armory Codman today is remembered mostly as a crusader for the reform of hospital standards, a zealous effort that cost him his position at the Harvard Medical Faculty.

Codman graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1895 and subsequently completed his internship at the Massachusetts General Hospital. He joined the surgical staff of the hospital and became a member of the Harvard Faculty, but lost his staff privileges there in 1914 when the hospital refused to institute his plan for evaluating the competence of surgeons.

Thus, basically shunned by his colleagues, Codman was forced to develop his own private hospital in order to test his management concepts. Codman was not, however, the first to advocate an "end result" system og evaluation. The idea of a hospital register to help physicians improve the quality of care they deliver was first presented by the British physician Sir Thomas Percival (1740-1804) in 1803.

On November 16, 1899, he married Katherine P. Bowditch (born 1870).

In the early 1920 Codman established the first bone tumour registry in the United States, which set the precedent for a national exchange of information on bone tumour cases. About the time when he presented his "End result system of hospital standardization", the American College of Surgeons was founded and the "End Result" System became the stated objective of the College. His work in quality assessment eventually led to the founding of what is now the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations, JCAHO.

Besides the eponyms enetred separately, he is also associated with:

    Codman's angle
    Codman's cartilage lamp
    Codman's drill
    Codman's incision
    Codman's saber-cut shoulder approach
    Codman's shunt
    Codman's sponge
    Codman's vein stripper
    Codman's wire passing drill
    "By the adoption of the register, physicians and surgeons would obtain clearer insight into the comparative success of their hospital and private practice; and would be incited to a diligent investigation of the causes of such difference. "
    Sir Thomas Percival, 1803

    "Every hospital should follow every patient it treats long enough to determine whether the treatment has been successful, and then to inquire ‘if not, why not’ with a view to preventing similar failures in the future."
    Ernest Codman, 1914


  • A Study in Hospital Efficiency. Boston : Privately printed, 1916.
    Pioneer application of efficiency engineering principles to hospital administration, made over a five year period.
  • Bone Sarcoma, an Interpretation of the Nomenclature Used by the Committee of the Registry of Bone Sarcoma of the American College of Surgeons.
    New York : P. B. Hoeber, 1925.
  • The Shoulder: Rupture of the Supraspinatus Tendon and Other Lesions in or about the Subacromial Bursa.
    Boston : Privately printed, 1934. Reprint, Malabar, Florida : Krieger, 1965.
  • Sir Thomas Percival (1740-1804):
    Medical ethics; or, a code of institutes adapted to the professional conduct of physicians and surgeons, in hospital praxis in relation to apothecaries and in cases which may require a knowledge of law.
    Manchester : printed by S. Russel for J. Johnson and R. Bickerstaff, London, 1803.
    First printed for private circulation 1803.
    An edition of the book published in 1927 was reprinted in 1975.

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