Cataloguing Norman Dott’s neurosurgical case notes with LHSA

This project is one of two Wellcome Trust funded projects currently underway at Lothian Health Services Archive (LHSA). It involves the detailed cataloguing of over 26,500 individual patient case notes relating to the pioneering Edinburgh neurosurgeon Professor Norman Dott, who established the first Department of Surgical Neurology in Scotland in Ward 20 of the Royal Infirmary and was also Professor of Neurological Surgery at the University of Edinburgh. This project, which has been underway since September 2012, aims to make a large body of records more accessible to researchers that would otherwise be somewhat hard to access due to barriers such as volume of material, specialised medical terminology and issues surrounding patient confidentiality. These barriers have been tackled and overcome by the development of a methodology to catalogue these valuable records to item level, which includes a high level of indexing to enable detailed searches to be carried out while ensuring the protection of confidential patient information. This project is without known precedent in UK archives and it is hoped that the cataloguing methodology will be applied to other large collections of patient case notes in the future.PR1-682


Four collections of case notes are being catalogued as part the project and span 40 years of Dott’s career between 1920 and 1960. They cover his early work in private practice, the establishment and development of the Department of Surgical Neurology at the Royal Infirmary and his work during the Second World War at the Brain Injuries Unit at Bangour General Hospital. The case notes contain a wealth a material that give a unique insight into the development of the specialism of surgical neurology in Scotland by Dott and his team and into the lives of his patients. While the project was set up and led by the Project Archivist and is being continued at present by the Project Cataloguing Archivist, it has also benefited greatly from contributions from volunteers and interns, both in terms of aiding the cataloguing process and dissemination of the methodology.

PR3.706 case file

Come along to our pop up session tomorrow, Tuesday 23rd September between 10 am and 12 pm to hear more about this innovative cataloguing project.