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Emergency War Surgery

Emergency War Surgery“All the circumstances of war surgery thus do violence to civilian concepts of traumatic surgery.

The equality of organizational and professional management is the first basic difference. The second is the time lag introduced by the military necessity of evacuation.
The third is the necessity for constant movement of the wounded man, and the fourth — treatment by a number of different surgeons at different places instead of by a single surgeon in one place — is inherent in the third.

These are all undesirable factors, and on the surface they seem to militate against good surgical care. Indeed, when the over-all circumstances of warfare are added to them, they appear to make more ideal surgical treatment impossible.

Yet this was not true in the war we have just finished fighting, nor need it ever be true. Short cuts and measures of expediency are frequently necessary in military surgery, but compromises with surgical adequacy are not.

Michael E. DeBakey, MD
Presented at Massachusetts General Hospital
Boston, October 1946



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