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A Piece of My Mind
June 22 2011

Sleepless

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Department of Surgery, Wilford Hall USAF Medical Center, Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas; Department of Surgery, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio; F. Edward Hébert School of Medicine, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Department of Defense, Bethesda, Maryland (joshalleymd@hotmail.com).

JAMA. 2011;305(24):2501-2502. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.863

I thought about our enemies tonight, and why and how we physicians care for them. It has been said that downed American pilots and other servicemen returning from German prison camps after World War II were sometimes found to have metal rods inside their fractured femurs. One such story was the subject of a 1945 article in Time magazine called “Amazing Thighbone.”1 A mix of curiosity and disgust followed over such apparent human experimentation, though the servicemen had actually received an advanced treatment for femur fractures ahead of its time: an intramedullary nail. The captivating thought in the anecdote, though, is that the enemy would render not just reluctant care, but outstanding care.

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