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Book and Media Reviews
July 23 2008

Concepts and Practice of Humanitarian Medicine

JAMA. 2008;300(4):442-446. doi:10.1001/jama.300.4.442

Where you live should not decide whether you live or whether you die.—Bono, “Crumbs From Your Table”

I mentioned to a colleague, a captain in the Canadian military, that I was writing a review of Concepts and Practice of Humanitarian Medicine. He works in a military hospital in Afghanistan and told me that at night, patients—often children—are left near the front gate. Once, a small boy was found alone in the desert's morning. Amputation and debridement of his gangrenous leg did not prevent acute renal failure. Death was inevitable. “I can do peritoneal dialysis,” said one of the internists. “I can put in a [peritoneal dialysis] catheter,” replied a general surgeon. Two weeks later, the boy went home. If you think this outcome should be repeated whenever and wherever possible, read on.

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