Blog Author: George Szasz, CM, MDPosted: Friday, November 4, 2016 - 13:07
Remembrance Day commemorates civilians and military personnel who lost their lives in a peculiarly human endeavor—warfare.
As I pinned the iconic red poppy to the lapel of my overcoat—my emblem of homage to this day—I pricked my finger. As a drop of blood appeared at my fingertip I could not help but think of the millions of men, women, and children wounded in body or mind, and the millions who lost their homes and belongings and became fugitives from their native lands in the course of countless wars. Then my mind flashed to our profession and how, over the centuries, evolving military trauma care influenced not only today’s civilian emergency care but left two legacies basic to our present day concept of health care delivery.
One legacy is linked to the work of Florence Nightingale (1820–1910). During the Crimean War of 1853–1856 outrage over the poor treatment of British wounded led the War Office to send to Istanbul this young nurse, where her first act was to clean the hospital, organize sewage disposal, and introduce a whole list of sanitary measures. Ms Nightingale became one of the founders of today’s nursing profession and laid the foundations of today’s health care team in medical practice.
The other legacy has to do with our expectations from our health care system. During the First World War and, more so, during the Second World War the systematic physical examination of military recruits and the soldiers’ everyday dependence on appropriate medical, dental, psychological, rehabilitation, nursing, and related services laid the demand for tax-supported universal health care services for each of us.
Let us remember.
—George Szasz, CM, MD
Connell C. War’s medical legacy. Stanford Medical Magazine, summer 2007
This posting has not been peer reviewed by the BCMJ Editorial Board.