ELIZABETH, ILL., Jan. 7, 1899.
To the Editor:—Readers of the JOURNAL OF
THE AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION will find my former article on "Homing Pigeons as Medical
Messengers" in the JOURNAL of March 31, 1898 (p. 872).
Though much interest was manifested in the subject at the time, not
many doctors to my knowledge undertook to secure for themselves the
service of these wonderfully clever aerial messengers. I can now speak
with more assurance that they are indeed feasible. I receive messages
from my patients in the country every day, in addition to my daily
visits to them. My plan usually is to leave a pigeon the day I make a
visit and direct that the pigeon be liberated the next morning about 8
o'clock, with such a message as I may desire, e. g., the record of
temperature, pulse, number of stools, etc. With a little care in the
instruction of the nurse, I am quite well informed of the condition of
my patient before I start to make my next visit, just the same as the
doctor becomes informed of his hospital patient, by first examining the
record of the patient kept since his last visit. In a country practice
this is even more important, as it enables the doctor to judge what
will be needed for his patient the next twenty-four hours, for we
country doctors must act as our own druggists. Then again, country
doctors can not often make more than one call in twenty-four hours, and
by an aerial messenger service he can get practically the same
information as the doctor in city or hospital practice, who makes
several calls, by simply leaving two pigeons and getting an evening and
morning report. The doctor who has a country practice is often called
from his country patient to other persons sick in the neighborhood.
This will make him late in getting back to his office, and it will be a
great convenience if he can send this information home, practically
with the same speed as the city practitioner through the medium of the
telephone system. That we can remain in closer touch throughout an
illness of our country patients, there can remain no doubt, a fact that
will be appreciated by most patients and their friends.
Homing Pigeons as Medical Messengers.. JAMA. 1999;281(4):308T. doi:10-1001/pubs.JAMA-ISSN-0098-7484-281-4-jjy80048a