“Teeth in the bathroom!”

For much of the 19th century, this area was the “accident room,” the predecessor to the emergency room. Many MGH employees called it the “bathroom” because it had a bathtub (used for washing patients’ injuries). It was next door to the living quarters of the house pupils, whom we would call medical and surgical residents today. There was a night attendant in the mid-19th century who was known for shouting “teeth in the bathroom!” into the house pupils’ quarters when a patient needed a tooth pulled. They would call for a more experienced surgeon for more complicated emergencies, but they pulled teeth themselves.