Could Modern Medicine Have Saved Lincoln?



if [color=#0c4790]ford's theatre had been in [color=#0c4790]baltimore, if the patient had been taken to the city's shock trauma center and if 1865 were 2007 . . . [color=#0c4790]abraham lincoln might have survived the gunshot wound to his head.


"we probably see a dozen gunshot wounds to the head each year where people survive. he had a non-fatal injury by 2007 standards," said thomas m. scalea, a surgeon and the director of the shock trauma center.


what is more extraordinary than what might have happened to lincoln if he were treated in the 21st century is what did happen to him in the middle of the 19th.

lincoln received a version of cardiopulmonary resuscitation that is eerily similar to what is standard today. his medical care -- first in the theater, then at a boardinghouse across the street -- focused largely on brain decompression, one of the chief therapeutic goals in modern treatment of head trauma.


3,322 Posts

Specializes in Critical Care. Has 15 years experience.

I saw this article about how modern medicine could maybe have saved Lincoln. Interesting, except.

You can't take modern medicine out of context to the bullet that killed him.

Modern medicine would have also equated to a modern bullet. That doesn't just mean much more sophisticated lead shot, load, etc. It doesn't just mean over a century of advancement in bullet frangibility, ballistics, etc.

It also means modern magazines and semi/automatic firing of multiple shots.

Maybe Lincoln COULD have survived a 19th century bullet with 21st Century medicine. The REAL question is could he have survived a 21st bullet (or multiple bullets) that would have gone along with that 21st Century medicine?

To quote the tootsie pop commercial: The world may never know.




494 Posts

Specializes in SRNA.

I bet the polio vaccine would have prevented FDR's polio.



1,119 Posts

I bet the polio vaccine would have prevented FDR's polio.


Actually I was reading an article about a peer review study that suggests he may have actually suffered from Guillain-Barre syndrome, not polio.


41 Posts

Specializes in ER. Has 7 years experience.

I think we could have saved him simply by having psyche drugs available to treat the nut job that killed him, preventing the whole disaster.


127 Posts

They may have saved Lincoln with today's medicine but he would have ended up as a vegetable at a short staffed Long Term Care facility.

It may have helped if Lincoln's one and only "guard" who was supposedly guarding the theatre box hadn't taken off down to the bar and then sat downstairs. He left his post and was sitting at the back of the theatre drinking whisky.

Has 10 years experience.

Hey! First post!

I saw an article some years ago that stated that the medical practices of the times killed him. Namely, inserting probes (Bullet probes are long and thin, traditionally made of silver) into the bullet hole caused MORE brain damage.

Seems logical.

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