On July 22, 2014, a memorial stone was placed on the unmarked grave of E. Amory Codman, MD, in Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Mass. The effort to honor Dr. Codman’s many contributions to medicine was initiated by members of the American College of Surgeons, and supported by The Joint Commission, the American Shoulder & Elbow Surgeons (ASES), the AAOS, the American Hospital Association, and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). The commissioned headstone acknowledges Dr. Codman as “Father of outcomes assessment and quality measurement in healthcare” and includes his prescient quote: “It may take a hundred years for my ideas to be accepted.”
As early as 1900, Dr. Codman developed an interest in what he termed “The End Result Idea.” This concept was that every hospital should follow every patient treated, long enough to determine whether the treatment was successful and then, if not, to determine why.
“We had found that this routine tracing of every case, interesting and uninteresting, had brought to our notice many things in which our knowledge, our technique, our organization, our own skill or wisdom, and perhaps even our care and our consciences, needed attention,” he wrote.
Although this effort to follow patients to determine clinical outcomes may be his greatest legacy, Dr. Codman also established the first registry of bone sarcoma, wrote an early roentgenology atlas of normal bone structures and bone diseases, created the first anesthesia record in the form of an ether record with Harvey Cushings, performed the first rotator cuff repair in 1909, and wrote the first book on the shoulder in 1934.
In attendance were (pictured from left) James H. Herndon, MD, AAOS past president and former chair of Orthopaedic Surgery at Harvard; Jon J.P. Warner, MD, current chief of the shoulder service at MGH and a past president of ASES; William Mallon, MD, Codman’s biographer and ASES president-elect; Jonathan Ticker, MD, ASES committee chair and historian, and Laurence Higgins, MD, current chief of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital sports medicine & shoulder service and ASES committee chair.
Two unexpected attendees at the unveiling were Elizabeth Snyder and Virginia Harlan, Dr. Codman’s grand-nieces. Both had personal memories of Dr. Codman and shared their recollections, including his love for his extended family and his enjoyment of hunting and fishing.