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Titanic's Hospital  Return to Diagram


Titanic's Hospital Staff


(Above L to R) Chief Surgeon, William Francis Norman O'Loughlin, MD, Asst. Surgeon, John Edward Simpson, MD, Evelyn Marsden, Nurse, Katherine J. Wallis, Hospital Matron, and William Dunford, Hospital Attendant. (E. Marsden Image Credit: Encyclopedia Titanica)

Dr. O'Loughlin, Dr. Simpson, William Dunford and Katherine Wallis, did not survive; Evelyn Marsden did survive.

Titanic had a well equipped hospital on board located on D Deck on the starboard side of the ship. It was complete with an operating room and a well stocked pharmacy. The hospital was divided in such away as to accept 1st, 2nd, and 3rd class patients separately. It had 12 primary treatment beds, and a further 6 beds designated as an isolation area for suspected infectious disease cases as well as general treatment of 3rd class passengers. With the huge concern that transatlantic ship's had with infectious diseases during this time period, (with the third class immigrants) it's quite difficult to understand why you would want to locate the ship's hospital directly next to a food preparation area and dining area, but that's where it was.

For the crew, there was a 4-bed treatment room/sick bay on C Deck near the foremast (similar to an acute care clinic today)


Dr. Henry Frauenthal, (pictured below) a renowned orthopedic surgeon was travelling in first class with his wife and brother from Europe back to New York. On the morning of April 14, Mrs. Henry B. Harris, 36, fell down the first class grand staircase and broke her elbow. After finding out Dr. Frauenthal was on board she requested his services to have her arm set and casted as opposed to utilizing the services of Titanic physician's Dr. O'Loughlin or Dr. Simpson.

Following the disaster, Dr. Frauenthal received extreme criticism regarding he and his brother, both male 1st class passengers surviving with so many women and children left behind. Also under scrutiny by the press (and public opinion) was their method of boarding life boat 5. Dr. Frauenthal told the press and wrote in a memoir that he and his brother, Isaac were told to enter the boat by the officer in charge (5th Officer Harold Lowe) because no other women or children were in the vicinity. However, according to over 35 witnesses, his verbal and published accounts of how he and his brother left Titanic were not true.                                                                                                                                                                        


Officer Lowe had been adamant about not allowing men in the boats, even to the point of firing 3 shots in the air when he saw men attempting to jump from an upper deck into another life boat. He testified at both inquiries that he didn't allow a single man to board the boats he loaded and confirmed that Dr. Frauenthal and his brother both jumped into a boat being lowered from the boat deck while he wasn't looking. 3rd Officer Pittman, 1st Officer Murdoch. and White Star Line chairman Bruce Ismay were also at boat 5 assisting passengers into the boat.

According to eyewitness accounts from women in boat 5, the 250 pound Dr. Frauenthal landed on top of passenger Annie May Stengel, breaking her ribs and knocking her unconscious. A letter written to a friend (dated 1913) by Dr. Frauenthal's wife, Clara, stated it was Frauenthal's brother Isaac that landed on top of Ms. Stengel. It's believed that she may have trying to protect her husband's reputation. Annie Stengel's husband Henry publically threatened to sue Dr. Frauenthal for injuring his wife, and referred to him and his brother as cowards.

In 1927, Dr. Frauenthal committed suicide by jumping out of a window from the 7th floor of his hospital falling to his death in the parking lot below. According to Frauenthal's great nephew, Stephen Frauenthal, (in a 2011 interview) his great uncle had advanced stage diabetes and had been told he would have to have a leg amputated as a result. Stephen Frauenthal stated his family members told him while growing up that this was the reason for the suicide, not guilt from surviving the Titanic disaster as newspapers had claimed.

Interestingly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) when printing his obituary in 1927, never even mentioned that Frauenthal was a passenger on Titanic. This was most likely due to the mainstream newspapers, again, 15 years later, questioning his surviving and means of escape with women and children left behind. In his will, Frauenthal only left household items to his wife, Clara. The house was left to his sister and brothers and he left the remainder of his estate ($400,00) to the Hospital for Joint Diseases (now part of NYU school  of medicine) that he founded. In a bizarre inclusion of his will, he requested cremation with his ashes scattered from the roof of the hospital.

Medications in Titanicís Hospital Pharmacy as Required by the British Board of Trade in 1912

These drugs were the best medications available for the time period based on 1900's research. However, many if not most of these are no longer in use today. Later medical research proved that many of these drugs had no medical effect on what they were being used for and a few of them were strong narcotics that led to addiction. Several of these medications were eventually banned in the US by the Food and Drug Administration, (FDA) and others were found to actually contribute to death, such as the lead and opium mixture.


     I. Spirits of Ammonia: Used as a stimulant syncope (fainting). Was also used to treat stomach pain, and headache.

    2. Bicarbonate of Soda: Used for indigestion and heartburn

    3. Black Draught: Used for constipation (NOTE- This was not used in the US for humans - it was developed as a veterinary 

        medication used on cattle)

    4. Bromide of Potassium: Was used as a mild sleeping aid and tranquilizer

    5. Camphor: Was used in small doses to relieve gas

    6. Castor Oil: Was used for constipation and diarrhea

    7. Chlorodyne (Chloroform, Morphine and Alcohol) Was used as a sedative in cases of neuralgic headache, fever, cough,

        headache, and dysentery. 

    8. Creosote Was used for severe vomiting and for toothaches

    9. Elixir of Vitriol: (Sulfuric acid and alcohol) Was used to treat diarrhea

   10. Epsom Salts (Magnesium Sulfate) Was used as a purgative for constipation

   11. Tincture digitalis (extract of foxglove leaves) Used for congestive heart failure, left side heart failure, and as an

        antiarrhythmic agent

   12. Blue Pill or Blue Mass. A mercury based med used frequently by Abraham Lincoln. (Which according to Mary Todd

         Lincoln also made him quite ill) It was to treat syphilis, tuberculosis, constipation, parasitic infestations, and labor

         pains. Each blue pill contained 33% (68 mg) mercury. Use of the pill frequently resulted in death by heavy-metal toxicity.

         It was banned in the US in 1929.

   13. Cough Pill (ipecac and ammonia) Was used for dry coughs and colds (These mixture had frequent side effects

        of vomiting and profuse coughing)

   14. Lead and Opium Was used for diarrhea and stomach and bowel bleeding. Manufacturing stopped in the US in

        1936 due to high frequency of associated lead poisoning deaths.

    15. Dover's Powder: (Ipecac and Opium powder) Was used used for colds and to induce sweating (Used up to

        1964 - FDA banned for it's addiction tendencies)

    16. Salicylate of Soda (Baking Soda) Was used for high fevers and rheumatic fever (Later research proved is had

         no medicinal effects what-so-ever for general fever and rheumatic fever)

    17. Aspirin (Acetylsalicylic acid) Used for high fevers, rheumatic fever, headaches, mild to moderate bodily pain

    18. Spirit of Chloroform Was used to relieve stomach pain and flatulence.

    19. Sulfur: Was used  to treat hemorrhoids

    20. Sweet Spirits of Nitre:  Was used  for cardiac palpitations, chest pain (angina) flatulence, fever, kidney medication,

         abdominal cavity fluid retention (dropsy) and as a diuretic. (Still manufactured, not used much anymore)

    21. Laudanum (Tincture of Opium) Was used for moderate to severe pain and as a sleeping aid (Manufacturing in the US

         banned by the FDA in 2013 due to it's addictive properties and incidence of abuse. High addiction rate in the 1800's)

    22. Saltpeter: Was used to reduce fever and increase urination.

    23. Paregoric:  (Opium, benzoic acid, camphor, glycerin, alcohol) Was used to treat coughs, colds, chronic bronchitis and

         tuberculosis. (Manufacturing in the US banned by the FDA in 2012 due to it's addictive properties and incidence of abuse)




(above left) An aspirin bottle from 1911. (above right) A physician's bag from 1910

The following article contains an excellent description of Dr. O'Loughlin and his medical staff aboard Titanic, written by Richard A. Glenner, DDS; Alison G. Kassel, BBA; Laurel K. Graham, MLS.

Every third class passenger underwent a cursory medical examination given by a team of surgeons, led by Titanic's Surgeon, Dr. William Francis Norman O'Loughlin, senior surgeon of the White Star Line. Dr. O'Loughlin studied at Trinity College, and the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin. He was at sea for 40 years and a resident of Southampton. Prior to being transferred to the Titanic, he was the surgeon on board the Olympic.

Dr. Edward C. Titus, medical director of the White Star Line and a close friend of Dr. O'Loughlin, said, "He was undoubtedly the finest man I have ever known. Always ready to answer a call for aid at all hours of the day and night, he would go into steerage to attend an ill mother or child, and they would receive as much consideration from him as the wealthiest and mightiest on board, truly honoring his oath as a physician. He was one of the best read men I ever met. Dr. O'Loughlin was always doing some charitable act. Of his income, I believe it will be found that he left little having distributed most of it to the poor. There is no doubt he died as he wished. Once, recently, I said to him that as he was getting on in years, he ought to make a will and leave directions for his burial, as he had no kith or kin. He replied that the only way he wanted to be buried was to be placed in a sack and buried at sea (New York Herald). Dr. John Edward Simpson was the Assistant Surgeon on the Titanic. He was 37 years old at the time of his death. He was born in Belfast, resided in London, educated at the Royal Academical Institution, and at Queens College, Belfast; M.B., B.Ch., B.A.0., Royal University of Ireland, with honors in physics and zoology. He was a member of the British Medical Association and at the time of the sinking was a Captain in the Royal Army Medical Corps (Titanic Enthusiasts of America and Titanic Historical Society 43.)

Additionally, there was a small medical staff. Mrs. Katherine Wallis was the matron. She was in charge of the immigrants in the third class, showing them how to do things, such as how to use the toilet, which many of them had never seen. She was an expert in looking after people and would be the first to spot anything that needed treatment by the doctors. The hospital steward was William Dunford. He was 41 years old. Mr. Dunford was the one who looked after everything. It is believed that individuals, such as Mr. Dunford, were invaluable; literally running the hospital and being extremely helpful to the doctors. Finally, Mrs. Evelyn Marsden was described as the Nurse/Stewardess for the First Class passengers. Dr. O'Loughlin and Dr. Simpson examined the crew muster sheets with Captain Maurice Harvey Clark, the Board of Trade immigration officer, to ensure a healthy crew was aboard (Hind). Health regulations, which were in effect in 1912, when Titanic sailed, stipulated that every ocean going ship with over 50 steerage passengers or a total of over 300 persons (passengers and crew), should have a qualified medical practitioner. This practitioner must be licensed in the United Kingdom or in the country of origin and provided with suitable surgical instruments.

Finally, a medical practitioner, appointed by the imigration officer at the port of clearance, had to inspect all steer age passengers and crew to make sure that they appeared healthy. This was done to avoid sending a sick passenger to America, where they might not be accepted. An inspection card (health certificate) was filled out for each third class passenger and attached to the ticket. The doctors checked the scalp for lice and evidence of infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis.

Trachoma, a highly infectious and potentially blinding eye disease, was one of the things looked for. Anyone showing such signs was not allowed to board (Butler 39). Three children's lives were saved ironically because they were diseased. These children had trachoma, and therefore remained in Syria. (Charity Organization Society of the City of New York. Red Cross Emergency Relief Committee and American Red Cross 13.).



Medical Firsts and Breakthroughs in the Year Titanic Launched (1912)


  • The US Public Health Service is formed by Congress

  • Dr. James B. Herrick first describes heart disease resulting from hardening of the arteries (Arthrosclerosis)

  • McCollum and Davis discover vitamin's A and D

  • Phenobarbital is introduced, and is found to effective against seizures (still commonly used today)

  • British aviator Marcel Desoutter manufactures the first aluminum prosthetic legs and arms (replacing heavy wooden prosthetic limbs)

  • Max Wertheimer publishes the paper that becomes the basis of Gestalt psychology

  • The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reported the first diagnosis of death by heart attack

  • Carl Jung publishes The Psychology of the Unconscious and breaks off all professional association with Sigmund Freud

  • The first motorized ambulances began appearing, replacing horse drawn ambulances.



A 1912 REO Speedwagon ambulance


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