Source: Montreal Medical Journal
Source type: journal
Document type: editorial
Document title: “The Injury and Death of the Late President of the United States”
Date of publication: October 1901
Volume number: 30
Issue number: 10
|“The Injury and Death of the Late President of the United States.” Montreal Medical Journal Oct. 1901 v30n10: pp. 821-22.|
|William McKinley (medical care: international response); William McKinley (death, cause of).|
The Injury and Death of the Late President of the United States
The report of the illness of the President and
of the conditions found at the autopsy has been published in full by several
of the American medical journals. It is a creditable report, and is signed by
all the physicians and surgeons who had been in attendance.
It shows that, thanks to the forethought and provisions made for the care of anyone injured on the grounds, by those in charge of the Buffalo exhibition, the President received prompt and efficient attention, that the physicians and surgeons worked together in harmony, and that everything was done for the distinguished patient that science could suggest.
The cause of death, however, cannot as yet be said to be fully determined. The wounds in the stomach were successfully closed, and there is no evidence that any leakage occurred after the closure. The suggestion that the bullets were poisoned has been disproved. There seems to be little or no evidence that there occurred a lesion to the sympathetic that could, with any degree of even probability, be assigned  as a cause of death. Much more can be said in favour of the suggestion that death resulted from the injury to the pancreas. Further evidence, either experimental or pathological, regarding the effects of injury to and disease of this viscus must be obtained before any positive statements can be accepted. One can hardly read the pathological report without wondering whether or not a drain inserted through the abdominal incision, or better yet, from behind through the loin just beside the injured kidney, would have altered the result. There is the positive evidence of the bacteriologist that the wounds and retro-peritoneal wound cavity were not infected. Drainage, therefore, could only have given a chance of escape to the serous exudate and pancreatic fluid if present.
One fact comes out very clearly, and that is that the medical attendants had to contend with a serious injury in a patient whose recuperative and reparative power was woefully low. An overworked man, with imperfect heart and kidneys, falls an easy prey to injury and disease.