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January 17, 1966


JAMA. 1966;195(3):214-215. doi:10.1001/jama.1966.03100030108033

Forty years ago the floors and walls of the urology clinics of city hospitals were spattered with permanganate solutions. It was dispensed by the bucket, or the barrel, usually hot, and there was no certainty that the washings and irrigations of the male urethras were too beneficial. They gave symptomatic relief. Whether the heat or the permanganate of the solution did the work was unknown. The medical student who took histories in other departments did not ask if the visiting patient had had gonorrhea; he asked when he had had it, and how often; and he did not call it gonorrhea, a Galenic term; he called it by its vernacular title, if he was to be understood.

The recovery rate was high, and the death rate low, but there was a massive amount of misery and dollar expense in between. Only men were treated, and the almost untouched reservoir in

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