MGHSurgeryFounded in 1811, the original hospital was designed by the famous American architect Charles Bulfinch. Early organizers included US Presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams, the former presiding over the first meeting of the MGH Corporation. During mid-to late-1800s, Harvard Medical School was located adjacent to Massachusetts General Hospital. John Warren, Professor of Anatomy and Surgery at Harvard Medical School, spearheaded the move of the medical school to Boston. Warren's son, John Collins Warren, along with James Jackson, led the efforts to start the Massachusetts General Hospital. Since residents who had sufficient money were cared for at home, Massachusetts General Hospital, like most hospitals that were founded in the 19th century, was intended to care for the poor. In 1811, Jackson and Warrend successfully appealed to the wealthy citiziens of Boston for support, and the Massachusetts Legislature granted a charter for the incorporation of the Massachusetts General Hospital.

The following year, Dr.'s Jackson and Warren established the now famous New England Journal of Medicine, and in 1816, MGH trustees approved the opening of what is today McLean Hospital, one of the first institutions in America to stress the treatment, rather than the custodial care, of the mentally ill.

In 1846, dentist William TG Morton demonstrated the first use of ether during surgery at the MGH (performed by Dr. Warren), ushering in the age of anesthesia and ending forever the agony endured by patients undergoing operations. Two decades later, Dr. Warren's grandson brought Joseph Lister's newly discovered techniques of asepsis to the MGH, finally bringing under control the deadly infections that had stalked every surgical patient.

The first X-ray in the United States was made by an MGH physician in 1896, just 30 days after the technique was developed in Europe. The MGH created the first medical social service department in a hospital in 1905, to help patients with non-medical issues arising from illness or injury. In 1925, the MGH opened the first tumor clinic in a hospital, launching a battle against cancer that is today carried on by hundreds of MGH researchers and specialists in one of the largest cancer research facilities in the world.


Together with the Harvard Medical School, the MGH established Boston as a respected center for the education of young doctors and the pursuit of clinical research. In its early days, the MGH was one of the few hospitals in the world to conduct research.

MGH Building Today, the commitment has grown into the largest hospital based research program in the United States The scale may be larger, but the mission remains to understand disease, to teach the art and science of medicine, and to improve the care of patients.

MGH is consistently ranked among the nation's top five hospitals by U.S. News and World Report ranked in the Top 10 U.S. News Report.

MGH is the third oldest general hospital in the United States and the oldest and largest in New England. The 900 plus-bed medical center offers sophisticated diagnostic and therapeutic care in virtually every specialty and subspecialty of medicine and surgery.

Each year, MGH admits more than 46,000 inpatients and handles nearly 1.5 million outpatient visits at its main campus and at its four health centers: in the Back Bay, Charlestown, Chelsea and Revere. Its Emergency Department records nearly 80,000 visits annually. MGH is the only hospital in the United States to hold concurrent Level 1 verification for adult and pediatric trauma and burn care. The surgical staff performs more than 35,000 operations and the MGH Vincent Obstetrics Service delivers more than 3,500 babies each year.

MGH conducts the largest hospital-based research program in the country, with an annual research budget of approximately $500 million. It is the oldest and largest teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School, where nearly all MGH staff physicians serve on the faculty.

The MGH Corporation includes MGH, McLean Hospital (a psychiatric facility), the Institute of Health Professions, a network of community health centers, and home care services. MGH physicians are organized under the single umbrella of the Massachusetts General Physicians Organization (MGPO). The MGPO represents more than 1,700 physicians and oversees the negotiation of managed care contracts, group practice administration, and the development of new professional activities. Administrative fellows have the opportunity to work with all entities of the corporation.

The MGH and the MGPO also are part of the Partners HealthCare System, an integrated delivery network founded in 1994 by MGH and the Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Partners Community Healthcare, Inc. (PCHI), an extensive network of mainly primary care physicians, is the centerpiece of Partners integrated delivery network. Through its affiliations with hospitals, nursing homes, home health agencies, and other specialty services, PCHI continues to forge new relationships that provide patients with a full continuum of care throughout eastern Massachusetts.


MGH SurgeryThe MGH/North Shore Center for Outpatient Care and Medical Office Building is slated to open June 2009. The goal of this collaboration is to develop and build a state-of-the-art facility that combines the best of academic and community medicine by bringing together new technology and expertise in a customer-focused environment.

In 2011 MGH will celebrate it's bicentennial through a number of activities, one of which is the opening of a 530,000-square foot clinical facility. The Building of the Third Century (B3C) will house an expanded and renovated Emergency Department with a sheltered ambulance entrance; increased space for Radiation Oncology; three floors of operating rooms/procedural space and recovery areas; a new space for the Sterile Processing Department; and five floors of private inpatient rooms. Plans for the building also include three sections of green space — two roof gardens and one large atrium with plants and natural light to filter into patient and staff areas.

 Additional Milestones    
Writings on Ether from John C. Warren, MD