Thursday, February 13, 2014

Civil War; Females Unfit as Nurses.

American Medical Times.
Volume 3., 1861, p. 30.

Our women appear to have become almost wild on the subject of hospital nursing. We honor them for their sympathy and humanity. Nevertheless, a man who has had experience with women nurses among male surgical cases, cannot shut his eyes to the fact that they, with the best intentions in the world, are frequently a useless annoyance.

Cases are continually occurring in male surgical wards of such a character as require strong arms, and attentions which any reasonable medical man is loth to exact from female nurses. Imagine a delicate refined woman assisting a rough soldier to the close-stool, or supplying him with a bed-pan, or adjusting the knots on a T-baridage employed in retaining a catheter in position, or a dozen offices of a like character which one would hesitate long before asking a female nurse to perform, but which are frequently and continually necessary in a military hospital. Besides this, women, as a rule, have not the physical strength necessary.

For example : a man having gunshot wounds of grave severity affecting the lower extremities, with perhaps incontinence of urine, or diarrhoea, would not improbably be attacked with bed-sores if not kept scrupulously clean. Should the soft parts of the back begin to ulcerate, local attention becomes doubly necessary. The patient, under these circumstances, requires often to be lifted up carefully,
and bodily, so as not to alter the comparative position of his limbs to the body. To do this properly, at least four strong men are required, who, stationed two at the shoulders and two at the hips (one hand from each lower assistant steadying the thigh and leg of that side), can thus raise the man steadily and carefully. A fifth would not be out of place in supporting the feet, while the medical attendant washes the excoriated parts, applies the needed dressings, and throw s upon the surface of the bod a clean sheet

Women, in our humble opinion, are utterly and decidedly unfit for such service. They can be used, however, as the regular administrators of the prescribed medicines, and in delicate, soothing attentions which are always so grateful to the sick, and which at the same time none know so well how to give, as do noble, sensible, tender-hearted women.

But as hospital nurses for wounded men, they are by nature, education, and strength totally unfitted, i. e. when we consider all the duties surgical nurses are called upon to perform. In conclusion it may be well to state that a surgeon on duty with troops, by showing proper interest in the men, without allowing himself to be humbugged by them, will gain their affection as well as respect. S.G.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Given the work of Clara Barton and scores of other women, I guess the author was rather wide of the mark on this one.