Virginia Apgar

APGAR, Virginia, American physician, 1909-1974. An anaesthesiologist, with a particular interest in the newborn. In 1952 Virginia published the Apgar Scale, which enables health assessment of a baby at the moment of birth. It was a risk-assessment measurement system. The scoring system was based on assigning a value of 0, 1, or 2, for each of five signs. Colour, heart rate, muscle tone, breathing effort, and response to stimuli, were the signs. The maximum score was 10, in a healthy newborn baby, measurement being taken one minute after birth. From 1938-49, Virginia had directed the Division of Anaesthesia at Columbia Medical School, as professor in the last year. Her principal interest had become obstetrics anaesthesia, with special interest in what effects an anaesthetic given to the mother would have on the baby. From 1959 Virginia was a member of the National Foundation, and from 1967 was the Director of the Basic Research Division. At Columbia, she had created the Anaesthesiology Department and then been the first woman department head and first professor of that subject. A postage stamp commemorates her work.

Anaesthesiologist Inventor

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