Limitations In Civil War Medicine Essay

1756 words - 7 pages

From 1861 to 1865, civil war broke loose and resulted in the many deaths of Americans. The blame for this tragedy is not due to the conflict alone, but due to the standards of medicine during the mid 1800s. Today we have the luxury of antibiotics and anesthetics to cure aliments and a much higher chance of surviving an injury or a common disease like malaria. Unfortunately, during the civil war, medical practitioners had to resort to primal methods in saving a civil war soldier’s life. Civil war soldiers lost their limbs and lives to injuries and diseases that would have been avoidable today. During the Civil war, doctors received minimal training and were unfit for one of the bloodiest periods in our nation’s history. Medical education at the time were less intensive than it is today. People during the 1800s who were interested in medicine would be qualified physicians after attending lectures for two years and taking an exam. They did not have the practical training which is require today and experience in was usually taught on the job. Health care during the civil war lead to many needless deaths and has been remember until today.
Leo Rosenhouse, a writer for several publications, has written an article which depicts a horrid description of the medical conditions and struggles during the civil war. After a single year, 17,000 union soldiers have been wounded and the demand for surgeons was prominent. After a day of fighting, 700 union solders lay on the battlefield crying for aid only to see a handful of medics with little supplies to assist them. The nation was so scarce in medical supplies that volunteers in Boston made house-to-house searches for bed-sheets, curtains, and shirts to be used as bandages. The nation was also low in medical personnel; many practitioners of this time were poorly trained and learned on the job. Temporary field medical facilities were built and were shortly overwhelmed by wounded soldiers. Before the civil war began, qualified surgeons only dealt with the minor cases. (Cases such as pulling teeth, lancing boils, and combating diarrhea.) On the battle field, surgeons quickly picked up that they are in different environment than what they usually deal with. A successful surgeon is a fast one. The sooner a surgeon operated, the higher the chances of the patient’s survival. This was because surgeons of this time did not have iron scalpels that can cut and seal wounds like today. So the longer an operation took place during the civil war, the more blood loss and the more patients are exposed to infections. The operating room for civil war solders usually took place in the open. Patients were exposed to many pathogens and chances of infection were high. Most of the cases civil war surgeons had to face were injuries and wounds from bullets. In most cases, survival for the wounded meant an amputation, there were no sophisticated tools back then that allowed surgeons to extract a bullet. Patients were sedated with...

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