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FALLACIES IN THE UNDERSTADING OF ANTISEPTICS AND GERMICIDES WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO MERCURIC CHLORID

MARSH PITZMAN, M.D.
JAMA. 1910;55(4):308-309. doi:10.1001/jama.1910.04330040044014.
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A study of this subject brings into discussion fundamental principles of surgery and is therefore, I trust, of general interest.

An infected wound in this country, in the hands of the majority of surgeons, is treated by a bichlorid of mercury moist pack. To this general procedure I take only the exceptions noted later. A large number of textbooks state and surgeons believe that mercuric chlorid exerts an antiseptic action on the bacteria within the tissues. That bichlorid of mercury as used does not exert such antiseptic action is my main proposition.

CHEMICAL CONSIDERATIONS  We must consider first the chemical structure of mercuric chlorid. As the name implies, two atoms of chlorin are combined with one of mercury. It is due to the mercury that mercuric chlorid possesses its specific action on syphilis and, in case of overdoses, its poisonous activity. It is due to the chlorin that mercuric chlorid

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