Today, while reviewing the Mortality Index for an older Mississippi county, I made an interesting discovery. Names that made up the mortality index prepared that year had been combined with census data for the persons included on the index that lists age, length of illness, and cause of death. The result is an invaluable document for a family researcher. Three doctors, whose names appeared on the transcription of the document, had provided the information that was likely submitted to the equivalent of the state department of health of that time period. Although I did not find the information for which I was searching, I did discover something that was surprising and rather alarming: one individual on this mortality index died of "morphine by mistake."
Now I don't know the circumstances that surrounded this particular individual's death, nor do I know what the climate of the medical society was in 1880. But what I do know is that in today's world, a death caused by "morphine by mistake," would be cause for alarm, and an investigation would be in order.
But times were different then, and in a remote, rural area in 1880, this incident may have just been called "an accident."