Source: Alabama Medical Journal
Source type: journal
Document type: editorial
Document title: “Some Points in the President’s Case”
Date of publication: October 1901
Volume number: 12
Issue number: 11
|“Some Points in the President’s Case.” Alabama Medical Journal Oct. 1901 v12n11: pp. 607-08.|
|William McKinley (surgery); William McKinley (medical care: personal response); William McKinley (death, cause of); Herman Mynter; J. Marion Sims.|
|William T. Bull; Joseph Lister; Matthew D. Mann; William McKinley; Herman Mynter; Roswell Park; J. Marion Sims.|
Some Points in the President’s Case
The Post-Graduate of New York, on “The Topics
of the Month,” contains the following condensed review of the case:
The great medical event of the month has been the assassination of the President while receiving his fellow-countrymen at the Buffalo Exposition. While, in the providence of God, his life was not to be spared, the surgical treatment of his case has demonstrated the immense advance of modern surgery in the treatment of gunshot wounds of the abdomen. A few years ago a wound of this character would have meant immediate death. If the surgeons had not attended to the stomach wounds as promptly and as skillfully as they did, the President could have lived but a few hours, and his death would have been from acute peritonitis.
It was fortunate, indeed, that such surgeons as Mann and Mynter and Park were on the spot, and that an hospital equipped with all the appliances of the modern hospital was available, for now the people of the whole country can rest assured that everything that surgical science can do was done in the case of President McKinley. There  can be no regret anywhere, or, for that matter, any criticism of the course pursued in the treatment of the distinguished patient. There was no delay on account of his exalted position, no faltering in the technical work, no error of judgment that could have been avoided. We say this advisedly and with full knowledge of all the criticisms that have been advanced. Let those who criticise stop to consider what they would have done had they been in the same position, and they will probably find that they would have adopted exactly the course that was pursued by those at the bedside.
It is possible that the cause of the infection that produced the change for the worse, and the rapid death of the President after he seemed out of danger, may never be revealed, but surgeons generally will always be convinced, probably, that it was an auto-infection rather than a poisoned bullet. All honor is due to the consideration of Dr. Herman Mynter in this case, too. It required a strong and a brave man to stand aside from such an opportunity because another had had more experience, and yet we, who know Dr. Mynter well, know that he was thoroughly equipped and perfectly capable of taking the first place.
This sad occurrence at Buffalo, illustrates the importance of the advanced training of our physicians and surgeons. Fortunately for us all, even surgeons of our small towns and even of our villages are becoming better and better equipped with sound learning and aseptic methods, so that wounds are now treated properly and efficiently at once, nearly everywhere, even in wildernesses or isolated homes, if it be only so that a surgeon can be found.
It is not twenty years ago since Marion Sims, even before Lister’s principles were everywhere promulgated and understood, announced in our Academy of Medicine, that the abdomen should be opened, the ball searched for, and the wound closed by suture. He then stated, to an astonished and almost incredulous assemblage of Academicians, that this radical treatment offered something in otherwise hopeless cases. It was not long afterward that a New York surgeon—William T. Bull—was among the first, if not the first, to demonstrate the truth of what Sims said.