by Jessica Stoller-Conrad
The third season of the television show Downton Abbey premiered in the U.K. last weekend, and if you’re a dedicated follower like me, you’ll know that medical tragedy is no stranger to the Crowley household.
Spanish flu and a spinal injury shape the plot, and in one memorable scene John Bates, personal valet to Lord Grantham, uses a frighteningly painful metal contraption that he hopes will correct his debilitating limp. Call me crazy, but that got me wondering about other questionable medical devices that have been sold throughout history.
Bates bought his limp corrector in World War I-era England, but he certainly wasn’t the first to be duped by medical quackery. In the United States, fraudulent medical devices are as old as the country itself, says Suzanne Junod, a historian at the Food and Drug