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Platelet Function Testing and the Bleeding Time

In 2009 Dave McGlasson and I published McGlasson DL, Fritsma GA, Whole blood platelet aggregometry and platelet function testing. Semin Thromb Hemost 2009;35:168–80. This article, the second-most cited in the 2009 Seminars in Thrombosis and Hemostasis, reminded me of our Quick Question about the Ivy bleeding time posted in early November, and subsequently lost when our site crashed in late November. While my goal in posting the Quick Question was to reemphasize the futility of the bleeding time, my research led me to a lengthy and engrossing article by medical historian Dr. Patricia Spain Ward, 1931–1995, “Who Will Bell the Cat? Andrew C. Ivy and Krebiozen.” The article was developed from a speech given by Dr. Ward at the Morris Fishbein Center for the Study of the History of Science and Medicine, University of Chicago on April 8, 1983 and published in the Bulletin of the History of Medicine 1984;58:28–52. I’ve prepared a brief summary of the bleeding time test, attached, Ivy’s role in its development, and his subsequent fall from grace when he promoted a false cancer cure. The “Bell the Cat” phrase refers to Aesop’s fable in which a group of mice held a meeting to decide how to prevent the cat from sneaking up on them. One mouse suggests they tie a bell to the cat, and all the others rejoice at the solution until a wise elder rose to ask, “Who will bell the cat?” No one was able to tie the bell to Ivy. To read, please click on AC Ivy Story.

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