In medicine, decisions are made on a daily basis about the
provision, withholding or withdrawing of treatments, many of
which could prolong life. Treatments which could provide a
therapeutic benefit are not inevitably given but are weighed
according to a number of factors, such as the patient’s wishes, the
treatment’s invasiveness, side effects, limits of efficacy and the
resources available. In relation to many conditions, a body of
accepted practice has been building about the criteria for
treatment and non-treatment decisions.
Under these circumstances, a mode of treatment which promises a decrease in the number of victims, from the
experience of a quarter of a century, and a score of epidemics of different characters, cannot but be received
with pleasure by the public. I have treated scarlet-fever hydriatically for twenty-one years, and out of several
hundred cases never lost a patient, except one who died of typhus during an epidemy of scarlatina; and my
observations, during twenty-five years, of the practice of other physicians of the same school, present a result
about as favorable as my own....
During the past twenty-five years I have been engaged in the practical work of ministering to the needs of the
insane. This work has resulted in a gradual development of that form of treatment which has been designated
as "The Hospital Idea". In other words, the asylum has given place to the hospital in the protection and
restoration of mental invalids. The fact is now generally recognized that the insane man is a sick man, and
needs for his comfort and cure the application of such means as are ordinarily used for the benefit of the sick
in a modern general hospital. Acting under this...