The Curious Case of Dr. Dysentery

Jaroslav Hlava (source: WIkipedia)
Dr. Jaroslav Hlava (source: Wikipedia)

Something really funny from the history of medicine. This is how it happened:

  1. In 1887, the pathologist Dr. Jaroslav Hlava writes an article with the title O úplavici – předběžné sdělení, in English: On Dysentery – a preliminary notice.
  2. Stephanos Kartulis translates this article for the German journal Zentralblatt für Bakteriologie und Parasitenkunde. He, however, mistakes the subtitle Předběžné sdělení for the main title (Über die Dysenterie – On Dysentery), and the actual main title for the author’s name.
  3. The pathologist O. Uplavici is born.
  4. During 50 years, this article is frequently being cited and Dr. O. Uplavici gains considerable fame as an outstanding pioneer in modern medical science.
  5. In 1938, however, O. Uplavici tragically falls victim to a pedantic colleague, Clifford Dobell, who reveals his non-existence in an article one year later. Read about it here and here.

It is, therefore, with great sadness that we mourn today the loss of this exceptional man of Czech history. I particularly appreciate him as a prime example of how much can be achieved without having to show up at work for 50 years.