Browse Fellows


www Lives

Biographical entry Batten, Richard Lindsey (1920 - 1997)

MRCS 1944; FRCS 1953; MB BChir London 1944.

29 December 1997
Orthopaedic surgeon and Trauma surgeon


Richard Batten was the son of Lindsey Batten, FRCP, FRCGP, a Bart's-trained GP in Hampstead. Batten's disease, an inherited neurological condition, was named after his ancestor, also of Bart's. Richard trained at the Westminster Hospital, entered the RAMC on qualifying, and served in Italy. After demobilisation he was a trauma and orthopaedic surgeon at the University Hospital, Ibadan, then returned to the Birmingham Accident Hospital.

He rode a motorcycle at one stage, and after an accident he was admitted in coma to the hospital where he was working. A verbal instruction 'Put him on a quarter-hourly', meaning observation, was misinterpreted as 'morphia, gr. 1/4, hourly' by the night sister. By the time his father arrived to see him he was deeply unconscious. The senior Dr Batten managed to save Richard's life by observing that he had pinpoint pupils and stopping the morphia! The olafactory nerve lesion caused by the accident so impaired his taste that he was "said to be the only taker of the braised ox liver on the Birmingham General Hospital luncheon menu." Afterwards, Richard was instrumental in the campaign for helmets to be made compulsory for motorcyclists, and enlisted the support of the Duke of Edinburgh.

He was a very popular teacher, and always wore a fresh rose from his garden in his buttonhole. He was the first editor of the journal Injury, which he helped to found in 1983, and made contributions on the internal fixation of fractures. He was a fellow of the British Orthopaedic Association.

He suffered from progressive muscular dystrophy for 30 years, with stoicism. He died on 29 December 1997. He is survived by his wife, Mary, and three children.

Sources used to compile this entry: [BMJ 1998 316 1464, with portrait; British Orthopaedic News, Summer 1998].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England