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American Medical Biographies/Ingals, Ephraim Fletcher

Ingals, Ephraim Fletcher (1848–1918).

E. Fletcher Ingals, of Chicago, laryngologist, was born in Lee Center, Lee County, Ill., Sept. 29, 1848, the second son of Charles F. and Sarah H. Ingals, whose ancestors were early settlers in America. After a common school and seminary education, he went to Chicago and lived with his uncle, Dr. Ephraim Ingals (q. v.), professor of materia medica and therapeutics in Rush Medical College, under whose advice he entered that college as a student, graduating in 1871 with the degree of M. D.

From 1871 to 1873 he was assistant professor of materia medica, and in 1874 lecturer on diseases of the chest and physical diagnosis in Rush Medical College, professor of laryngology 1883 to 1890 and of practice of medicine 1890 to 1893. Under various but similar titles he continued his work there until his death, being also comptroller after 1898. He was professor of diseases of the throat and chest in the Northwestern University Women's Medical School, 1879 to 1898, professor of laryngology and rhinology in the Chicago Polyclinic after 1890 and from 1901 lecturer on medicine in the University of Chicago. Other positions, too numerous to mention, were filled by him with much credit.

In connection with a large private and hospital practice he was also an active and influential member of many of the most important national societies; a charter member of the American Laryngological Association in 1878 and its president in 1887; he attended nearly all its annual meetings and was always to be depended on for a carefully prepared paper and discussion. Of the American Climatological Association he was also a charter member and president, as well as a member of the American Laryngological, Rhinological and Otological Society and chairman of the section on laryngology of the Pan-American Congress in 1883.

A subject in which he always felt great interest was medical education, in its highest and scientific sense. As early as 1879 he read a paper on "How shall the degree of M. D. be conferred?" and later, on the "Necessity of Modern Medical Colleges"; he made the report of a special committee on medical education in Illinois. He was one of those most instrumental in urging and bringing about the important affiliation of Rush Medical College with the University of Chicago. He had much to do with convincing President Harper of the University of the great value of this union, both as regards medical progress and as an extension of the usefulness of the university. As comptroller of the medical college his long years of service were invaluable and his business-like methods were appreciated by friends of medical education, who were the more disposed to contribute to an institution where his influence and methods were paramount. His most recent society work was in connection with the formation of the Institute of Medicine of Chicago. In 1914 he called a meeting at the University Club of the leading men of the profession of Chicago, with the idea of taking steps toward starting an Institute. The work of the American Medical Association interested him for many years and he served as trustee for six years.

His largest literary production was his book on "Diseases of the Chest, Throat and Nasal Cavities," N. Y., 1881, more than half of the pages of which were devoted to diseases of the lungs and heart. The second edition, 1892, on the other hand, was much more than half given over to the nose and throat. His medical papers, about 150, appeared in various journals, and their titles are to be found in the Index Catalogue of the Surgeon-General's Library. Many of the important articles on his special work are contained in the Transactions of the American Laryngological Association.

A subject to which he gave much clinical study was bronchoscopy, for which he ingeniously devised or modified many instruments. He gave even more attention to an operation for intranasal drainage of the frontal sinuses, presenting a number of papers, which always excited great interest and often criticism, impelling him to further effort to show the correctness of his point of view. The treatment of fibrous tumors of the nasopharynx, immunization treatment of hay fever, intubation, laryngeal phthisis, were other subjects which claimed his attention and on which he wrote.

His last contribution was an article on angina pectoris, finished while he was lying in bed during the closing period of his life. It was a characteristic thing for him to do—to use his own illness as a text for a discussion that might be of benefit to humanity. The paper was read at a meeting of the Institute of Medicine, March 28, 1918, and he died in a paroxysm of angina April 30, only a month later.

In 1876 he married Lucy S., daughter of Dr. Ephraim Ingals, his uncle, and had seven children, four of whom, with their mother, survived him.

Proc. Inst. of Med., Chicago, 1919, vol. ii, No. 4, 173–178. Portrait.
Eminent Amer. Phys. and Surgs. R. F. Stone, Indianapolis, 1894.