A Patient Died During an Operation from the Effects of Chloroform.
Dr. C.T. Bennett of Detroit, who is well known in this city, is under arrest in Grand Rapids and will probably have to answer to the charge of manslaughter. Miss E. Richards, whose home is at Middleville, died Saturday afternoon at the Eagle hotel, Grand Rapids, from the effects, it is alleged, of chloroform administered by Dr. Bennett.
That afternoon just as the doctor was about to pack his grip and leave for home Miss Richards called. He says he treated her several times before for rectal trouble, once at her home in Middleville and twice at Grand Rapids. She has been working in Plattsville, Wis., since her last visit to him and when she called Saturday she complained of feeling worse than ever. He at once decided an operation would be necessary. He had but one little room, a bedroom, in which he received his patients, and Miss Richards was told to lie upon the bed.
The doctor called in one of the chambermaids to assist him and gave the patient chloroform. He says he used no instruments and finished the operation in a few minutes. He was looking after the chloroform at the same time, and says that he had finished the operation when the patient suddenly ceased breathing. He saw at a glance that she was in danger and rushed out to the hotel office and asked the clerk to summon a doctor and bring him some brandy. Dr. D.S. Sinclair was called but when he arrived a few minutes later the woman was dead, and the coroner was notified.
Dr. Bennett had no explanation to make more than to state that he had graduated at Ann Arbor in 1872 and had practiced medicine ever since as a specialist in chronic diseases. He said that the death of his patient was simply a terrible accident and he was ready for an investigation that might be made and did not fear but that he would be exonerated.
The coroner, Dr. Luton, is quoted as saying: “I think this is the greatest outrage I ever heard of. I never knew in all my experience of a physician would attempt to administer the chloroform at the same time and in not taking the precaution to even loosen the woman’s clothing this doctor was certainly negligent. I believe he ought to be prosecuted.
The prosecuting attorney was called to the case and he at once ordered that Dr. Bennett be placed under arrest and held to await an investigation.
The inquest upon the death of Miss Richards, who died at Grand Rapids Saturday after undergoing an operation by Dr. C.T. Bennett was commenced Monday. The chambermaid who was called in to assist the doctor said that the woman’s collar and tie had been taken off, her waist opened, and that she wore no corsets.
This was contradicted a few minutes later, however, by Dr. Sinclair, the physician who was summoned by the clerk of the hotel. He said that when he arrived, the body of the woman was lying upon the bed, and that she wore a shirtwaist tightly buttoned, a standing collar and a white tie, all in place. Her skirt bands had not been loosened, and not a particle of her clothing had been removed. He himself removed her collar and tie and opened her waist. He also found that she not only had her corsets on, but they were tightly laced. After the inquest was adjourned Dr. Bennett was arraigned on a warrant charging him with murder in the first degree. He asked for an examination and it was set for June 29. An application for bail was refused. Dr. Bennett is very well known in this city. He has made regular visits here for the past fifteen years or more and consequently has a large circle of friends and acquaintances who will watch the outcome of his present trouble.
Source: Marshall Expounder, June 30, 1899.