The Inspiring, Untold Story of Trauma Care
Catherine Musemeche, M.D.
Genre: Medicine / Medical History
Date of Publication: September 6, 2016
# of pages: 268
The heroic story of the invention of trauma care, from battlefield triage to level 1 trauma centers
Trauma is a disease of epidemic proportions that preys on the young, killing more Americans up to age thirty-seven than all other afflictions combined. Every year an estimated 2.8 million people are hospitalized for injuries and more than 180,000 people die.
We take for granted that no matter how or where we are injured, someone will call 911 and trained first responders will show up to insert IVs, stop the bleeding, and swiftly deliver us to a hospital staffed by doctors and nurses with the expertise necessary to save our lives. None of this happened on its own.
Told through the eyes of a surgeon who has flown on rescue helicopters, resuscitated patients in trauma centers in Houston and Chicago, and operated on hundreds of trauma victims of all ages, Hurt takes us on a tour of the advancements in injury treatment from the battlefields of the Civil War to the state-of-the-art trauma centers of today.
PRAISE FOR HURT: THE INSPIRING, UNTOLD STORY OF TRAUMA CARE
“Musemeche’s fast-paced medical history mixes the gritty reality of treating life-threatening injuries—including her own heart-pounding experiences as surgeon—with an unfettered optimism about what trauma care can now promise: an assurance that most people will survive even a devastating injury.”
“Hurt is a fascinating journey through the history of trauma care in this country. Musemeche’s unique ability to weave moving, personal stories with intriguing facts takes this book well beyond a great read. It is an education in the human spirit.” —Paul Ruggieri, MD, author of Confessions of a Surgeon and The Cost of Cutting
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The Lessons of War
By Catherine Musemeche, M.D.
Every war is a trauma lesson. Along with devastating injuries comes an opportunity to improve the care of the wounded because there is no better incubator for studying trauma than war with its large number of casualties. From the American Revolution up through Desert Storm (1775-1991) approximately 1.5 million soldiers were killed. While all of these wars were fought with rifles of various kinds, each one produced it’s own unique pattern of injury due to weapon type and battle tactics.
The musket was used during the Revolutionary War. Because the musket had to be loaded with gunpowder, paper and a metal ball, men fought in shoulder-to-shoulder formation, lined up three rows deep. The low-powered round ball bullets traveled like a bad knuckleball and were accurate to a distance of only fifty yards. The balls produced a lot of fractures and soft tissue injuries but the wounds were survivable.
By the time the Civil War erupted the Springfiled .58-caliber rifle, a more powerful and more accurate weapon, had been invented. Upon firing, the half-inch minie ball would spin, increasing its velocity to 950 feet per second. Overnight the rifle’s accuracy increased to six hundred yards, the length of six football fields leaving soldiers still fighting in formation vulnerable to being easily picked off by the new weapon.
The minie balls flattened out when they hit the skin and ripped apart the body causing large wounds with vastly more tissue destruction. At a time that predated antiseptic techniques and antibiotics, severely damaged limbs posed the danger of life-saving infection. Surgeons were forced to default to the only life-saving operation they knew–limb amputations. Of the 174,000 gunshot wounds to the extremities in Union soliders amost 30,000 required amputation.
In World War I men fought in trenches exposing their head and necks to the new automatic weaonry of machine guns. As a result, there were a record number of gunshot wounds to the face that forced the development of surgical techniques that layed the groundwork for plastic surgery. Vietnam brought “bouncing Bettys,” underground grenades that lopped off feet and legs. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were beleagured by improvised explosive devices (IEDs), remote controlled bombs that blew off every part of a soldier that wasn’t armored and rattled his brains.
Through every iteration of warfare our military surgeons have improvised and innovated, devising new techniques and devices to treat the next generation of war wounds. Fortunate for the civilian trauma population, many of those techniques have trickled down to modern-day trauma centers.
More on weaponry and the changing patterns of injury in chapters 2 & 10 of Hurt, The Inspiring Untold Story of Trauma Care.
Dr. Catherine Musemeche is a pediatric surgeon, attorney and author who lives in Austin, Texas. She was born and raised in Orange, Texas and attended Lutcher Stark High School. She is a graduate of the University of Texas in Austin, The University of Texas McGovern Medical School in Houston, The Anderson School of Management in Albuquerque, New Mexico and The University of Texas School of Law in Austin, Texas. Dr. Musemeche is a former surgery professor at the University of Texas Medical School in Houston, the MD Anderson Hospital and Tumor Institute and the University of New Mexico where she was the Chief of Pediatric Surgery and Pediatric Trauma. She currently works in the field of regulatory medicine.
In addition to publishing extensively in the medical literature, Dr. Musemeche has been a guest contributor to the New York Times. Her writing has also been published on NPR.org, KevinMD.com, in the anthology At the End of Life: True Stories About How We Die and in the Journal of Creative Nonfiction. Her first book, Small: Life and Death on the Front Lines of Pediatric Surgery was nominated for the Pen American/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Award and was awarded the Writer’s League of Texas Discovery Prize for nonfiction. Her second book, Hurt: The Inspiring, Untold Story of Trauma Care will be published in September of this year.
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