|Description||Turner was born in Liverpool in 1857, and after graduating B.A. at Dalhousie University, Canada, went to Edinburgh in 1884 to study medicine. He graduated MB, CM with honours in 1888, proceeding MD in 1890. In the same year he obtained the diploma MRCPEd, being admitted to the Fellowship in 1891, and became also MRCPLond. |
During the summer of 1889 he acted as resident physician in the Royal Infirmary with Sir James Affleck and was later house physician in the Royal Maternity and Simpson Memorial Hospital. After a period spent in visiting foreign schools of medicine, he turned his attention to lecturing on physics in Surgeons' Hall, Edinburgh. Shortly after he began lecturing, x rays were discovered by Roentgen in 1895, and Dawson Turner was one of the first to recognize their possibilities in medicine. A primitive x-ray installation, the first in Edinburgh, was set up in his house at George Square, and attracted a lot of attention when he demonstrated its properties of showing up bones and foreign bodies in the tissues. When, a few years later, radium was discovered, he soon secured a specimen, to which he added from time to time. For many years this was the only supply of radium in Edinburgh, and Dr Turner generously placed it at the disposal of the Royal Infirmary for the treatment of patients until the managers secured supplies for the institution.
Having been appointed assistant in the electrical department of the infirmary in 1896, he carried out important work with a primitive type of apparatus, totally unprotected from the dangerous rays. He suffered a severe burn in his early days, which eventually led to the amputation of fingers, and he ultimately lost an eye. In 1901 he was appointed head of the department, and brought out many inventions which proved of great value.
His 'Manual of Practical Medical Electricity' was a well-known textbook on this subject for many years, and went into a fourth edition, while his smaller work 'Radium its Physics and Therapeutics' was also widely used. He contributed many papers, mostly on physical subjects related to medicine, to various medical journals.
He died in Godalming on 25 December 1928, where he had been living since his retirement.
[Source: British Medical Journal January 1929]
Contents: X-ray photographs of cases, 1896