The Month [excerpt]
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 con- 
sideration 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 Listers 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 surgeonWilliam T. Bullwas among the first, if
not the first, to demonstrate the truth of what Sims said.