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GERMAN WAR SURGERY, Issue 15668, 5 December 1914
GERMAN WAR SURGERY
I Mr S. Osborn (says* the ‘La n cot' of j .September 12) has boon in charge of a j lied Cress contingent ;n Belgium etnco the commencement ol ’he war. line following I notes by one of his assistants reached ns | on September 9. from Brussels:— We have just returned to Brussels after spending a week at Gombloux treating German casualties from the battlefields around Xainur and Aisea.it. During that pei iod about 550 Germans passed. through our hands, and altogether we must, have see!! 1,500 or more cases. At first some of the Gormans refused to be treated by ns, and as we were not allowed to help the. wounded prisoners we had time on our hands in which to observe the Germa.it mcdical corps on active service. It cannot he raid that their methods impressed us favorably. Among the cases that came under ns for assistance wounds of the extremities were at least throe times move I'mimon than in other parts, the upjier extremity sutfering equally with the lower. In the guu.-!io; wounds there was (he usual small wound of entrance, with the larger one of exit, which was suppurating in 60 per cent, of our cases, showing that the German fiiM. field dressing is not a very effective preventive against sepsis. The uoui ds of entrance healed rapidly ; there was no sinus left., the typical wound at the end of four days being represented by a suppurating patch of tissue r.liout an inch in diameter at the place of exit. We saw few fractures, but such as occurred were severe and compound. Several of these had been treated at dressing stations with j phifler of-paris splints—a dangerous prac-i lice when the men were unable to he kept under observation for some time. A Hanoverian officer with his left arm in plasterof paris splint canm to us and complained of pain in lbs hand. On examination Mr Osborn found no evidence o; circulation, and at (lie cud of 45 minutes’ work with a razor, r.s we had no clippers, the splint was removed, ft. had been intended that this man should have gone on to Liege, am eight hours' jounmy without further medical attention. The German transport for wounded was very poor indeed ; except for four light ambulance waggons, about 2.000 wounded were evacuated thiengh G-.uuliloux on improvised farm carts, each cart containing a little straw and carrying about 12 men. The scheme
was to collect the cases from (lie battles mind Namur amt Aizeau, to nee Gem blorx as the railhead, and to burry all tbo cr.M'u witbf ut discrimination back through Liege to G'erniany. M e saw one man. who was shot through the pubes, (alum from bed. dressed in full kit with hi.s rille slung, and dragged along on foot- to the, station. Hero the only accommodation provided tor tho wounded consisted of iattic trucks, in which wooden benches had been placed, no space being loft, on the floor for the. badly wounded. Of the gnat, discomforts and the. foul atmosphere of c-it eh a journey we can apeak for ourselves, since we were conijs’lled to use (his ii'O.is to return to Brussels. The feeding of the patients at our hospdal was in charge of a Herman orderly, and here, again, there was a total lack of discrimination. Black broad and German sausage or fat bacon acre provided every day, and if a man were too ill to oat such, fare Iktent without. Fresh milk was impossible to obtain, but our nurses managed to secure cc nuten.sed milk and weak coffee tor a few ot the gravl-st cases. We saw several operations in tile big base hospital. It was a envious sight —•> most extiaovdinaiy nii.vtmv. of asepsis and liltby work. For instance, the legion toned the wound was shaved, yet half the hairs tell into *hc wound; the surgeon washed bis hands most carefully, and then torched the cigar which ho smoked all the time; the instruments were carefully sterilised by bnilimg. and then placed on a towel which'had been, used for the instruments for the, last 20 operations. Big collections of (ins and blood on the t.:!>!■;' were igimied. the only means of removal appearing to be on the unifotm of the next patient. Anie.-thclhe were seldom given, and it must l>o said that the fortitude of Ikuli French anil German was remarkable. Nearly every case witnessed consisted of removal of bullets from a suppurating part. Treatment consisted in enlarging the wound, probing, and extracting with long force|ie. and then forcing a way through the tisstvs with, the forceps to the most dependent pan, where a second incision was made, when a gau/.o wick was inserted. The authorities would not allow Mr Osborn to perform anv operation, but in tiie case of a French soldier who bad a wound just below the skin in the. left thigh, be extracted the bullet by means of a razor borrowed from a, soldier stafidinf? by.
GERMAN WAR SURGERY, Issue 15668, 5 December 1914
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