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This article was published in The American Surgeon Volume 78, Issue 1, January 2012, Pages 9-11.

The published version is available at PMID: 22273286. Copyright © Ingenta


Few physicians have been as celebrated and loathed as James Marion Sims, M.D., LL.D. Dr. Sims’ modest early life and education never could have predicted that he would one day be called the ‘‘Father of American Gynecology.’’1, 2 Lauded by contemporaries and early historians as ‘‘one of the most original and gifted of American surgeons,’’ he performed the first successful operation to correct vesicovaginal fistulas (a condition that prior to 1852 was known as the ‘‘stumbling-block of gynecology’’).1 Today, the same work that earned Dr. Sims fame, fortune, and innumerable honors has been called into question, because of the unethical manner in which he developed his surgical innovation.