Publication information
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Source: World
Source type: newspaper
Document type: article
Document title: “Condition Very Grave, Say Local Physicians”
Author(s): anonymous
City of publication: New York, New York
Date of publication: 13 September 1901
Volume number: 42
Issue number: 14633
Pagination: 3

“Condition Very Grave, Say Local Physicians.” World 13 Sept. 1901 v42n14633: p. 3.
full text
William McKinley (medical condition); William McKinley (recovery: speculation); Albert T. Weston (public statements); Cyrus Edson (public statements); William McKinley (medical care: criticism); Edward G. Tuttle (public statements); Wilfred G. Fralick (public statements); Carlos F. MacDonald (public statements); Charles Ogilvy (public statements).
Named persons
Cyrus Edson; Wilfred G. Fralick; Carlos F. MacDonald; William McKinley; Charles Ogilvy; Philip F. O’Hanlon; Edward G. Tuttle; Albert T. Weston; Hamilton Williams.


Condition Very Grave, Say Local Physicians


Dr. Cyrus Edson Says Peritonitis Is Almost Sure to Follow Latest Symptoms.

     Dr. Albert T. Weston, Coroner’s physician, who has performed autopsies in five or six hundred cases where death resulted from gunshot wounds and is an expert in the treatment of injuries of that character, said to an Evening World reporter to-day, after he had been shown the early bulletins from Buffalo regarding the President’s condition:
     “Toxemia is a term used to cover a wide range of complications. If it means septic infection or blood poisoning, that is the end. If it is due merely to the inability to digest solid food, it is only temporary and in all probability the President will rally.
     “Ordinarily a gunshot wound like that received by the President would be fatal in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred. The extraordinary conditions under which he was shot were favorable to him. I mean, he was shot practically at the door of a hospital, and the best of surgeons were at work on him within a short time.
     “At the end of six days the wound itself ought to be thoroughly healed. There is no evidence in the bulletins of secondary hemorrhage, or acute peritonitis. Bulletins from a sick room, however, rarely describe all the conditions surrounding a patient.
     “Talking with Drs. O’Hanlon and Williams yesterday, we all agreed that the President’s condition was most favorable, so far as the wound was concerned. If President McKinley is dying now it is from secondary complications.”

Edson Fears the Worst.

     “It is safe to say that the bullet remaining in the President’s body has been disposed of. The present trouble is possibly due to an escape of food into the abdominal cavity from the wounds in the stomach, which were not fastened firmly enough to withstand the muscular action of that organ. The escape of such food would immediately cause the symptoms now said to be present.
     “If my surmise is correct peritonitis will certainly follow, assuming that the President recovers from the heart failure and shock.
     “The failure of the stomach to digest food and thus dispose of it, which might be due to the patient’s weakened condition, would cause fermentation which would distend the stomach, make it press against the heart and thus cause the distressing symptoms recorded in the bulletins this morning.
     “Yesterday I believed the President’s chances of recovery to be 95 out of 100. This morning I would reverse the percentage.
     “I cannot believe it is true that Mr. McKinley has partaken of solid food. All this trouble might have resulted from liquid food, and I do not believe that the physicians would have risked administering solid food when so many predigested foods acceptable to a weakened stomach can be had.”

Dr. Tuttle Has Hope.

     Dr. Edward G. Tuttle, of No. 61 West Fifty-first street [sic], an authority on gastro-enteric diseases, said to-day:
     “The condition of the President this morning is not as favorable as we had hoped, but from the information I have obtained I do not think there is any immediate danger.
     “The administration of solid food to the President is the cause for this, but the fact that his temperature has not gone up gives us reason for hope that in the course of twenty-four hours, if no great rise in temperature comes, his condition will be most encouraging.”
     The doctor was asked if there was any more danger of peritonitis. He said:
     “The chances of peritonitis are almost entirely absent.”
     In concluding the doctor said that in his opinion there was no occasion for any serious alarm. He said the President’s low temperature was a most encouraging sign.

Will Not Live Twenty-Four Hours.

     Dr. Wilfred G. Fralick, of No. 791 Madison avenue [sic], who is one of three doctors who successfully removed a patient’s stomach and a prominent surgeon in intestinal troubles, said:
     “According to the latest reports the President will not survive twenty-four hours unless a decided change for the better occurs.
     “I have had little hope from the first. His pulse has been disproportionately high since the operation, which is always a most serious and unfavorable symptom in intestinal and stomach wounds.
     “In regard to the reports that the President was given solid food, the probabilities are that he has received no solids. If he did it was not the correct thing to do.
     “I deemed the case serious from the first, because the pulse has never gone below 120. There must have been blood poisoning from the start, and the physicians were evidently unable to prevent the infection, which has continued ever since. It became a systemic and local affection which could not be entirely eliminated by any antiseptic treatment.
     “It is now a question of general, or systemic, poisoning. Toxic organisms are evidently now attacking the cardiac or respiratory nerve centres, th[?]gh which, if not eliminated, death must surely result.
     “The danger of an imbedded bullet exposes the wound to infection and abscess in any course of its track. The bullet in its course beyond the stomach, which could not be followed, may have caused an infection which spread to the abdominal cavity.”

Slight Chance of Recovery.

     Dr. Carlos MacDonald, who was born in the same town as President McKinley and is two years younger, said to an Evening World reporter to-day that, basing his judgment on the published information, he regarded the President’s chance of recovery very slight. Dr. MacDonald, who is one of the most famous physicians in New York, said:
     “I have said all along that the President’s chances of recovery were very small, because his temperature has remained continuously above 100, his pulse 120 and his respiration above normal.
     “It is difficult to believe that a patient suffering from surgical fever, and with two bullet holes in his stomach, would be permitted to digest solid food within a week of the receipt of the injury. The process of stomach digestion naturally gives rise to the generation of gases which would tend to distend the stomach and put the tissues on the stretch, thereby endangering the opening of the scarcely healed wounds. Should this occur there would be an escape of some portion of the contents of the stomach into the abdominal cavity, which in my opinion would be sufficient to account for the symptoms described in the bulletins.
     “While there is a possibility of recovery, the chances are much against it.”

All Depends on the Heart.

     Dr. Charles Ogilvy said:
     “Everything now depends on the heart, which is taxed to the utmost. It looks as if the stomach had been overtaxed, and anything which would overtax any organ would reach the heart. The President has been in a most critical condition from the start.”



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