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Military Surgery

medical, care, life, soldier, sick, time and knowledge

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MILITARY SURGERY. Military sur gery was first recognized as a separate branch of medical science about the middle of the 16th century. but was not taught as a special study in medical colleges until the year 1829. Since then instruction has been given by the ablest surgeons both in Europe and America.

At no time in the history of the world has there been so great a number of powerful and destructive instruments of war as during the terrible conflict of the great World War. Statistics prove that at no time has there been so great a saving of life among the sick and wounded. We must not be surprised to note that a great part of mankind has occupied, and still continue to occupy, themselves in the improvement and perfection of the art of war, and that this art of destroying life is con stantly advancing.

For the earnest, faithful army surgeon many opportunities for careful study and close in vestigation are offered. Perhaps on his skill in caring for the sick and wounded depends the success of a campaign. The well-defined and carefully prepared plans of our ablest gen erals have been defeated and come to naught through the incompetency of medical officers. It is, therefore, the duty of the military sur geon to prevent, as far as possible, all useless expenditure of life. If battles must be fought, the results should be obtained with as little mutilation, suffering and sacrifice as is con sistent with life and the welfare of the cause. For this the world is indebted to our profession.

Subjects absolutely necessary and important for the surgeon to understand in performing the duties that pertain to an army surgeon are: In addition to climatic condition, he must have knowledge of the location of the country from which the soldier comes and his surroundings there; knowledge of the care of the individual —clothing and personal hygiene. It is to be re membered that the majority of soldiers are made up of youths from the age of 18 to 25, and, gen erally speaking, they know very little about the care of themselves individually. In the exam ination of the selective draft man the medical department must learn all about his habits, some of them to be corrected, as he enters upon his military life,. and others of such a nature

as to exclude him. The study of hygiene is of great importance, such as the care of the camp. Soon after our men were being assem bled at the cantonments there was a develop ment of chest trouble, such as bronchitis and pneumonia. Surgeon-General Gorgas made a very thorough, personal inspection, discovered it was the result of an overcrowded very difficult to correct, but attended to as rapidly as possible and resulting in immediate lessening in number of the sick. Also the kitchen, cooking utensils, drainage and sanitary surroundings of every kind should be care fully studied. The subject of food supply and its manner of preparation exacts great interest on the part of the medical officer, regarding a correct diet. You might present a meal to the British soldier that would please him very much, but it would not be well received by the American soldier, or those of other nations. The medical officer must inform himself also upon the nature of all insects, vermin of every description, the evil effects of even the house-fly, for at the present time all of these factors enter into the development of diseases that disable and impair the best work of the soldier. He must understand fully all that pertains to the quartermaster and commissary departments, in order that his sick may re ceive such luxuries and comforts as are their due. His knowledge of camp diseases is ab solutely necessary — typhus, typhoid fever, for all infectious diseases come to him and must have immediate attention. These are condi tions that will admit of but a few hours' delay, and then attention to minor cases, such as the care of the feet, is so very important. Within a few years the specialty of chiropody has advanced in a marvelous manner, and the sol diers are fortunate in with them a num ber of attaches of the hospital who are com petent to give proper treatment. Proper care must be taken of the feet, and perfectly fitting socks and shoes is another of the admirable methods adopted by the surgeon-general's office, all this working,to the advantage of the soldier.

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