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Page 147 text:
gets quite a bit of surgery, from two to half a
dozen obstetrical cases a month, some gynaecology,
Ophthalmology, and laryngology. NVith so many per-
sons depending on one medical man, it is easy to
see that his labors are as varied as those of the
physician in private practice. A day's work taken
from the surgeons log on a recent transatlantic
trip will give a fair idea of what the doctor at sea
has to do.
At three o'clock in the morning the doctor was
called out of bed to see a steerage passenger in labor.
The stewardess, who at one time had been a nurse
in an English hospital, had allowed matters to pro-
gress considerably before sending for the surgeon.
'As a result the woman was speedily delivered of a
healthy nine-pound boy. The doctor had just
esconced himself on a settee for a nap until the
first bugle call,
sailor who had
paring to swab
time before the
At nine o'clock
when he was summoned to attend a
scalded his leg and foot while pre-
one of the decks. It was breakfast
sailor's needs had been attended to.
the round of visits commenced. In
the forward port hospital was a Steerage passenger
ill with pneumonia, showing a temperature of 1040
Fahrenheit, a steward with acute nephritis, a fireman
with epididymitis, and a young boy with a septic
hand, which he brought aboard. In the after hos-
pitals, devoted to women, were va-rious cases. A
woman suffering with acute mania demanded con-
siderable attention. A young woman with acute
oophoritis, an old lady with facial neuralgia, a child
with laryngitis, and another with a hard bronchial
cold took up some of the surgeon's time. At 10:30
o'clock came the inspection. For an hour the captain,
purser, surgeon and chief steward thoroughly in-
spected the ship from stem to stern. Every part of
the vessel from the first cabin to the third class, and
from the saloon to the fireman's forecastle, was gone
over, and matters of ventilation, cleanliness and
order were taken up, and nothing which did not meet
Page 146 text:
Hamilton, one, Panama Railroad Line to Colon, four,
Red D Line to Puerto Rico and Venezuela, four, the
New York and Puerto Rico Line to San Juan, fourg
the Sloman Line to Brazil, four, and the Lamport
and Holt Line to Brazil, two.
There seems to be among the medical profession a
very general misconception as to the professional at-
taimnents of the surgeon on steamships. The idea
is broadcast that a ship's doctor is usually a man who
failed to make good in practice ashore, or whose
habits are such as to disqualify him for independent
It is unfortunate that such a belief is prevalent,
because, as a matter of fact. the average steamship
surgeon is as well qualified as the average physician
ashore, and indeed many of them are men of the
highest scientific qualifications. In the first place,
the number of men desiring to go to sea as surgeons
is so great that steamship companies are enabled
to take their pick. The doctor aboard is not the
social butterfly he is generally believed. While
here and there may be found a man who devotes
much time to social amenities, the majority only
see the passengers at the table over which they
preside, and occasionally on the promenade deck.
He leads practically the same kind of life as his con-
The larger vessels seldom carry fewer than -1,500
people on each trip, and in the busier season 72,500
would be nearer an average number. Each one
of these persons can call on the surgeon at any time,
day or night. His aihnents are the same at sea as
on shore, augmented by the troubles peculiar to the
sea. If anything, he is more particular at sea than
when ashore, and as a result the doctor listens to
more tales of woe in one trip than he would in six
months ashore. '
The surgeon's duties are confined to certain lines
not unlike those of the general practitioner. The
bulk of his work is with the medical sick, but he
Page 148 text:
the approbation of the officers escaped their attention.
After inspection the surgeon made his cabin calls,
occasioned chiefly on account of seasickness. Then
followed the surgery hour, where twenty-two of the
third cabin passengers and members of the crew
asked for medical advice. The cases were mostly of
a minor nature-coughs, colds, sprains, cuts, and the
like, made up the list. Many asked for an "opening
medicinef' with the result 'that black draught was
liberally given by the hospital steward. The passing
of sounds added to the variety of life on one steerage
passenger, while another enjoyed the sensation fol-
lowing urethral irrigation. During the afternoon,
the surgeon had an opportunity to get a two-hour
nap. Then came the evening hospital calls, and at
8:30 o'clock the evening surgery hour. At this time
it was necessary to reduce a hernia and fit a truss.
A bad case of varicose ulcer was treated and a couple
of stitches were taken in the scalp of a pugnatious
Irishman, who had decried England's greatness in the
hearing of a loyal Britisher. A fireman overcome
by the heat in the stoke hole, and another with sup-
pression of urine ended the labors of the surgeon
for the night.
Such was a day's routine, and happy was the
medical man when, on reaching port, he was able to
land every person on the ship. Two went to the
hospital.. but both were 'fout of the woods" before
the vessel again turned its prow homeward.
From this brief resume it will be seen that the
surgeon of the big transatlantic liner is no drone. His
working hours are long, and much of his leisure time
is taken up in the study and perusal of medical litera-
ture, of which he usually has a generous supply. The
surgeon's library is ample, and up to date, and his
medical and surgical equipment are the best.
The remuneration of the ship's surgeon depends
entirely upon the size of a vessel, its destination,
number of passengers, the length of the trip, and the
condition of the weather. Most of the lines employ-
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