Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 51.djvu/706

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preferable to call two surgeons, "and if possible, let them be friends, of the same sect, and agreeing in opinion; if two such can not be found, then a third should be taken in, in order solely to make the others agree after they have discussed the matter." Mondeville is not a partisan of a large number of consultants. He found many inconveniences and few advantages for the patient at the numerous meetings which he attended as king's surgeon. He then makes an irreverent comparison, of the patient to a dog and the surgeons to its hair: "We are," he says, "like the hairs of a dog: the longer and coarser they are, the more they annoy the animal, because they overload him and furnish a harbor for lice, and are of no use in any way, for dogs seldom die of cold. . . . The more numerous we are," he adds, "the less each one of us feels himself responsible. Each says that no larger part of the treatment fell upon him than upon the others. Hence, the more doctors the sick man has the more he finds that he has few or none. If affairs go ill, every doctor excuses himself, and holds that he is absolved. In this way it often happens that wealthy patients are less effectively treated than poor ones, because of the number of doctors they have around them. On the other hand, a large number of consultants embarrasses the attending doctor, and prevents his following his habitual practice; while, if he does not pay strict attention to the observations of the others, they regard him as a disagreeable, proud, self-conceited man."

The experienced surgeon, when he is alone, uses processes which he is not willing to reveal to the others (every one keeps his secrets, and every one pretended to have them in those days), or he is afraid that they will reject his remedy, as some do, who will nevertheless make a note of it to use it on occasion. Or, again, if his remedy is accepted, each of them will want to add something to it—one rose, another melilot, a third camomile—whereby the medicine will lose its virtue and the surgeon will not accomplish his purpose, and will be exposed to reproach from the very persons who have nullified his remedy. And, lastly, when the surgeon reveals to others, who knew nothing about them, the conclusions to which his experience has led him, they will say, "That is what I observed a long time ago," or "That is what I was just going to say."

Another argument adduced by Mondeville against a large number of doctors is that an experienced doctor is really seldom mistaken, while it is impossible, when several doctors have come together, for them all to be agreed as to the cause of the disease, its nature, symptoms, and treatment, for there will be as many

fever is prolonged beyond four days." This is why our author makes the limit of four days intervene before determining it to be necessary to call in another surgeon.