Re: Dr Ken Turnbull (obituary)

I was saddened to read of the passing of Dr Ken Turnbull. He was one of my favorite teachers, colleagues, and mentors.

In 1986, when I was a resident, he was one of the ICU attending staff. He had a great way of assessing cardiovascular responsiveness. He used the tilt table test. No one else did. Little did I know at the time that the test was first described that year!

Later, when the two of us were both in practice at VGH, he gave anesthetics for my patients. He was one of the early adopters of acupuncture as an adjunct to general anesthesia. He liked to teach about the Hegu point (LI4) in the first web space. This is the one to relieve headaches (possibly caused by the interaction of surgeons and anesthesiologists).

In 2001 I required an emergency disc­ectomy for an acute L5-S1 disc. Ken was my anesthesiologist. He sent the medical student out to examine me preoperatively. She apologized and said that Dr Turnbull had told her that she had to listen to my heart and lungs. I think I told her I would tell him if she didn’t.

He loved to talk about tinkering with and flying his plane and the time he had to ditch her in Indian Arm. He was a great teacher. He cared about his students, his patients, his colleagues, and his profession. He was also a good friend, and I will miss him.

hay č xʷ q̓ə.
—Douglas J. Courtemanche, MD, MS, FRCSC

This letter was submitted in response to “Dr Kenneth Walter Turnbull, 1937–2022.”


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Douglas J. Courtemanche, MD, MS, CRCSC. Re: Dr Ken Turnbull (obituary). BCMJ, Vol. 65, No. 1, January, February, 2023, Page(s) 7-8 - Letters.

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