Publication information
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Source: Journal of Medicine and Science
Source type: journal
Document type: editorial
Document title: “The Surgical and Medical Treatment of President McKinley”
Author(s): anonymous
Date of publication: October 1901
Volume number: 7
Issue number: 11
Pagination: 389-90

“The Surgical and Medical Treatment of President McKinley.” Journal of Medicine and Science Oct. 1901 v7n11: pp. 389-90.
full text
William McKinley (medical care: criticism: personal response).
Named persons
Matthew D. Mann; Charles McBurney; Herman Mynter; Roswell Park.


The Surgical and Medical Treatment of President McKinley

     More or less criticism has been indulged in (as usual) of the Doctors who were concerned in the case of the President. The most of it fortunately has come from the laity, who judge from all sorts of reports, official and unofficial, which yellow journalism may send out. Some of it comes, however, from medical men, who are always ready to tell, after the facts are all well known to every one, just what should have been done and what should not have been done. The principal criticisms have been. 1. That the Doctors either were mistaken in the nature of the case, or misrepresented in the bulletins to the public. 2. That the postmortem examination showed that they were mistaken. 3. That more search should have been made for the bullet at the time of the operation for closing the wounds in the stomach.
     The writer personally knows the two principal surgeons in the case—Drs. Mann and Park and by reputation Dr. Mynter—and ventures to assert that in no city in the Union could two better surgeons be found—learned, experinced [sic], skilful [sic] in operating and eminently judicious, and cautions [sic] in the general management of such cases—a careful scrutiny of the bulletins will show that at no time did either of these men, over their own signature, say that the President was out of danger. They gave the symptoms, and most surgeons throughout the country agreed with them, that the prognosis was favorable. An interview with Dr. Mann published in the [389][390] New York Herald, the day before the change for the worse, said: “That I, by no means consider the President out of danger.” To be sure Dr. McBurney, of New York, gave a most encouraging diagnosis—in fact felt sure that he was to recover. The writer is very sure that this opinion was not endorsed by the regular attendants. The fear at first was that peritonitis would follow the injury, but after two days, when it did not come, we all hoped much, although every surgeon of experience felt anxious when each bulletin announced a rapid pulse and some elevation of temperature. The postmortem showed gangrene from which some absorption of dead tissue took place and he died from septicemia (blood poison). No pus. No signs of peritonitis. No skill could have detected this gangrene. No amount of skill could have prevented it, could it have been foreseen. No good modern surgeon would have neglected to operate at the time that Dr. Mann operated. No one could have done it better. No judicious surgeon would have spent any more time searching for a bullet, which had done all the harm it could. It was the impact (the force) of the bullet (shot from a pistol within a few inches of the President) that killed the tissues for a distance about its course and caused the gangrene, in the writer’s opinion. The bullet might have remained in the body for years, (had he recovered) and no harm resulted—nature covers it up usually. The harm comes from what it carries with it and what it injures in its passage. We are therefore of the opinion that all that human foresight and skill could do, was done to save the life of the President.



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