John Snow

John Snow (1813-1858)

John Snow (1813-1858) was an English physician.

Snow is considered one of the fathers of modern epidemiology (the cholera cartographer); and a leader in the development of anaesthesia, medical hygiene and public health.

Developed the first staging classification for depth of anaesthesia in 1847, the five stages of narcotism or etherization as a precursor to classifications by Plomley and Guedel (1937)

  • Born March 15, 1813
  • Died June 16, 1858

Medical Eponyms
John Snow Silver Medal (1946)

The John Snow Silver Medal was originally given to anaesthetists who had distinguished themselves and received awards for gallantry in the Second World War. 

In 1946 the first three recipients were the founder of the Association of Anaesthetists, Henry W Featherstone OBE; Leslie G Morrison MC; and Professor Edgar Alexander Pask OBE.

Now awarded to UK and Irish anaesthetists who have held high office in, and provided exceptional service to the Association; or eminent UK and Irish anaesthetists of great distinction

Key Medical Attributions

The first classification system for general anaesthesia was proposed in 1847 by John Snow as the 5 stages of etherization (narcotism); and furthered by Francis Plomley in the Lancet in the same year. Guedel later proposed a four stage classification system to assess the depth of general anesthesia in 1937. This was designed for use with a single inhalational anesthetic agent (ether), in patients premedicated with morphine and atropine.


Major Publications





Eponymous terms

eponymictionary CTA


the person behind the name

BA MA (Oxon) MBChB (Edin) FACEM FFSEM. Emergency physician, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital.  Passion for rugby; medical history; medical education; and asynchronous learning #FOAMed evangelist. Co-founder and CTO of Life in the Fast lane | Eponyms | Books | Twitter |

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