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Contempo '90

Jeanette M. Smith, MD
JAMA. 1990;263(19):2619. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03440190075038.
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In 1537, a young French field surgeon named Ambroise Paré, unaccustomed to battle scenes, was shocked to see the throats of three wounded soldiers "gently and benevolently" cut by a comrade, who explained that he wished the same for himself if seriously wounded. When another doomed soldier, rescued by Paré, recuperated under his care, the soldiers were so touched by his kindness that they collected a purse for the doctor.

In Paré's time, much misery resulted from the belief that gunshot wounds should be cauterized, usually by a boiling oil mixture or scalding irons. Being inexperienced, Paré applied these remedies as instructed; however, when the oil supply ran out, he apprehensively experimented with a simple paste of egg yolk, oil of roses, and turpentine applied to the wounds. Those who were treated with the dressing rested in comfort, while the soldiers who received cautery for their wounds experienced fever, swelling,


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