Surgery Pioneer

Dr. George W. Crile, a native of Chili, Ohio and a virtuoso surgeon, in 1921 founded The Cleveland Clinic and the American College of Surgeons (ACS). He pioneered many surgical procedures. Today, The Cleveland Clinic ranks among the world's top medical facilities.  The ACS is the leading professional organization of general surgeons.

Crile was born on November 11th, 1864 on a small farm near Chili, Ohio. He worked as an elementary school teacher to pay his way through Northwestern Ohio Normal School, which later became Ohio Northern University. He briefly served as principal of the Plainfield (Ohio) School.  He became interested in pursuing a career in medicine as a result of a friendship with a local physician. Crile earned his M.D. degree with highest honors in 1888.

Crile also served as a Brigade Surgeon with the rank of Major in the Spanish American War. The military medical experience proved extremely valuable to Crile, with many resulting applications in his civilian medical career. He evaluated and treated thousands of those wounded or killed in the Spanish American war, and he put the experience to work when he returned home.

Did You Know?

  • Crile's major accomplishment, for which he was world famous, was shifting the focus of surgery from pathological anatomy -- which had become commonplace -- to physiology.  So many patients who had successful operations were dying anyway.  Crile determined they were dying of shock, and he introduced physiological monitoring, that is still done today, in every operating environment. (Source: Peter English, "Shock, Physiological Surgery, and George Washington Crile," Greenwood, 1980)
  • In addition to being a founder of the American College of Surgeons, Crile also served the organization for 26 years.
  • Over his career, Crile wrote 24 books and over 400 articles.

About the Cleveland Clinic

The Cleveland Clinic was founded in 1921 as a not-for-profit group practice, integrating clinical and hospital care with research and physician education. The Cleveland Clinic has more than 1,300 salaried physicians on staff, representing approximately 120 specialties and subspecialties. In 2003, they provided for almost 2 million outpatient visits and almost 50,000 hospital admissions. Patients came to the Cleveland Clinic from across America and from more than 80 nations.

About the American College of Surgeons

The American College of Surgeons is a scientific and educational association of surgeons, founded in 1913, to improve the quality of care for the surgical patient by setting high standards for surgical education and practice. Members of ACS are called "Fellows." The College has more than 64,000 Fellows, including 3,700+ Fellows in other countries, making it the largest organization of surgeons in the world. There are also presently more than 5,000 Associate Fellows. The letters FACS (Fellow, American College of Surgeons) after a surgeon's name means that the surgeon's education and training, professional qualifications, surgical competence, and ethical conduct have passed a rigorous evaluation, and have been found to be consistent with the high standards established and demanded by the ACS.