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scepticism in matters medical is as illogical as unreasoning credulity.
The experiments reported by Dr. Loomis in another column are sufficient, we think, to satisfy the demands of legitimate prudence. In fact, the subject has already received more attention than it has deserved. The results of these experiments seem to show that the injected material may, in certain cases, act as a mechanical stimulant, but that is all; they fail utterly to support the extravagant claims of physical and mental rejuvenescence which have been put forward in behalf of this method. What these experiments do not so clearly show, since they were conducted with a proper regard for surgical cleanliness, is the imminent risk of septic poisoning or of tuberculous infection to which the subjects of such injections are exposed in the hands of incautious operators.
It is high time, therefore, to call a halt in this matter, unless scientific medicine is to be made ridiculous in the eyes of the public.. If there are any not yet convinced of the worthlessness of this method, let them continue their experiments as long as they wish, but let them do so removed from the public gaze and out of sight of the newspaper reporters. It is repugnant to true science to parade such crude and untried theories before the public, as though they had received the stamp of authoritative approval, and in the name of this science we protest against it. The daily press is awakening to the true issues involved, and will in its own effectual way bury the theory out of sight, as soon as its falsity and absurdity have been made manifest.- N. Y. Medical Record.
THE MAYBRICK CASE.
Some singular dicta have crept into the discussion of the Maybrick case by the British medical journals. The details of the case are as follows: Mr. Maybrick, a hypochondriac patent medicine taker, arsenic eater and secret drinker, was, after a visit to the races, where he ate and drank heartily,
and was wet through, taken ill with vomiting and stiffness in vie legs. He was treated for gastro-intestinal catarrh by. several physicians and given small doses of ipecac and Fowler's solution, bismuth, carbolic acid, cerium oxalate and similar remedies to relieve gastric distress. As constipation was present, cascara sagrada was administered. Sulpbonal was given to secure slumber. The patient was doing well up to three days before death, when diarrhea attended by tenesmus set in. Four days before death, suspicion of arsenic poisoning was raised by an interested party, but on examination of the excreta no trace of arsenic was found. From this time on the patient was kept under surveillance, but on the first day thereafter, he grew rapidly worse and died two days later.
The British medical journals with their usual bias for the prosecution, have summed up in favor of arsenic poisoning, albeit leading forensic experts like Tidy, whose work on “Legal Medicine” is an Anglo-Saxon standard, Fritzgerald and Kinkhead, claim that death was caused by ordinary gastroenteritis. Small quantities of arsenic were found by Stevenson in the intestines, liver and kidneys, by the use of tests long since abandoned by toxicologists as defective. 'Had no arsenic been medicinally given the patient, and had he not been an arsenic-eater, this finding, despite its defective origin, might have been of value, but in the light of these facts, it becomes valueless, especially when the defective nature of the tests is remembered.
The British Medical Journal lays down as a starting point, that vomiting, attended simultaneously with diarrhea, in an adult, is indicative of poisoning. Every American physician of any experience will take issue with this dictum. Vomiting, attended simultaneously with diarrhea, may result from a chill, from nephritis, from malarial hepatic disease, from hepatic cirrhosis, from bad water, from impure food, and in certain persons, from cold. This dictum has therefore no value, moreover it has no bearing on the case. The vomiting of Mr. Maybrick did not occur simultaneously with his diarrhea. Dr. Tidy claims that since pain was absent, gastro-intestinal disease was not of arsenical origin, and this claim is certainly a justifi
able one, especially in view of the facts of the case.
In view of the facts given, the only ones bearing on the medical aspects of the case, the conservative scientist could find but one verdict as regards the arsenical theorynot proy
Mrs. Maybrick's immorality has no bearing on the scientific aspects of the case, nor has the amount of arsenic found strewn lavishly over the house after suspicion had been aroused by a person inimical to the accused. On the clinical symptoms, post-mortem findings and toxicological results, “not proven" would be the only justifiable verdict.-Medical Standard; Chicago.
THE MURDERER'S GUILT AND THE SURGEON'S
A legal decision of considerable interest to surgeons was rendered not long since in a murder trial in Liverpool. A man named Vaughan was tried for the murder of a Mr. Godfrey, whom he had. struck on the back of the head with an adze, inflicting a scalp-wound behind the ear. The injured man was taken to a hospital, and there developed symptoms of compression of the brain. It was thought that the skull was fractured, and on consultation the surgeons determined to trephine. This was done, and the man died in consequence, apparently, of hemorrhage from a large vessel opened during the operation. At the post-mortem examination it was found that there had been no fracture of the skull. At the trial the defense claimed that death resulted directly from the operation, and was not to be attributed to the original injury. The judge ruled, however, that this claim was inadmissible, as no culpable want of skill or negligence on the part of the surgeons could be proven. Such questions have arisen before, and are liable to be raised
any case in which the murdered man does not die within a very short time after the injury has been inflicted. If the wounded man is saved hy timely treatment, the defense is very
willing to profit by the surgeon's skill, though seldom ready to acknowledge its agency. But if treatment is unavailing in saving life, it is the surgeon, they say, and not the assailant who has killed the man.
There is a precedent in the English courts for this ruling, which is cited by the The Lancet in its comment upon the Liverpool case. Edward Lawless Pym was tried at Southampton, in the year 1846, for the murder of a Mr. Hawkey, and had the advantage of being defended by Mr. Cockburn (afte, ward Chief-Justice of England). Mr. Pym bad shot Mr. Hawkey in a duel and wounded him. An operation was subsequently performed, and the wounded man died. Mr. Cockburn proposed to show that the operation performed was unnecessary, and that without it the patient might have lived. But the presiding judge, Mr. Justice Erle, after consulting with Baron Rolfe, laid it down as law that “where a wound is given which, in the opinion of competent medical advisers, is dangerous, and the treatment which they adopt is the immediate cause of death, the party who inflicted the wound is criminally responsible.”
This ruling would seem to be a very just one, and moreover, one that will ultimately be of benefit to the accused in similar cases. For the surgeon, assured that the death will not be laid to his door, can accept the responsibility of treatment with greater confidence, and the success of his efforts will not be jeopardized by nervous apprehension of failure.-N. Y. Medical Record.
EXECUTION BY ELECTRICITY.
The warfare that has been waged between the supporters and the opponents of the electrical execution law of New York State, has given rise to the most conflictivg kind of testimony regarding the lethal force of the agent required to be used hereafter. Those who oppose the law are, at the same time, in most instances, persons whose interests lie in the more pro
'fitable and popular uses of electricity for motor or illuminating purposes. By some strange logic of their own they seem to argue that if the electrical execution law can be, and is carried into effect, there will be a stigma placed upon the commercial applications of electricity.
In spite of a variety of statements to the contrary, it is probable that a trial of the means provided by the new law must be had in due time; and we have no fear that it will not prove adequate. Professor William H. Howell, of the Johns Hopkins University, says: “Anybody who has been unfortunate enough to have a very strong electric current pass through his system must suffer paralysis of some or all of the nerve centers. This may be temporary or may be permanent. If the paralysis does not affect the vital parts of the human mechanism, the patient may live.... The descriptions of the apparatus in the infliction of the penalty which the New York criminal is to suffer, show that there is little possibility of his escaping almost instantaneous death. His head is to be invested in a metallic cap, and the full strength of a very strong current sent directly through the centers controlling the mechanism of life. These must be immediately paralyzed, and the beat of the heart, as well as the breathing, cease. The brain must also be entirely paralyzed at once, and all consciousness be lost.”
Such a statement will, to the medical mind at least, carry conviction. Until the test has been made, and the facts are found to contradict these scientific propositions, we shall expect to see the new law obeyed. The contracts have been entered into, we are informed, with our State officials for the delivery of a suitable electrical plant to each of the three prisons where the extreme penalty of the law will hereafter be administered—at Sing Sing, Auburn and Clinton. These prisons already possesss the steam-power sufficient to drive the form of dynamo that is ordered. The dynamo is said to be of the Westinghouse pattern of alternating current, electric-light machine; the pressure of the current will be equal to that used in the system of electrical illumination.-N. Y Medical Journal.