Medical Jurisprudence, Forensic Medicine and Toxicology

1894 Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA)  
geon to the Middlesex Hospital, London. With 250 engravings and nine plates. 8vo,cl., pp. 511. Philadelphia : Lea Brothers & Co. 1893. This book is handsomely printed and profusely illustrated. The illustrations are new for the most part. The text is peculiar in many respects ; in the author's desire to be original he makes some curious statements, and throughout the book the histology plays but a secondary part. His classification also is sui generis, and it is obvious that a classification
more » ... ch leads the author to place the psammomata under the head of papillomata, is not in accordance with the generally accepted histologic facts. In the four pages devoted to the psammomata\p=m-\if we except the opening statement that " these are tumors composed of globular bodies arranged in layers, usually calcified and imbedded in the connective tissue," . . . there is nothing to indicate their morphology, and their analogy if not identity with the sarcomata is not even hinted at. Woodhead, whose authority is unimpeachable, says, 3d edition, p. 585: " It (the psammoma) consists of a branching mass of spindle cells in which are numerous blood vessels, at the sides of which are a number of bud-like or club-shaped processes. The vessels themselves, seen in section, are surrounded by layers of spindle cells or flattened cells, which are prolonged on to the outer surface of the bud." Cornil and Ran vier directly place the psammomata among the sarcomata by making them the sixth variety, under the name of sarcoma angiolithique. Rindfleisch places the psam¬ moma in a new class which he termed endotheliomata. Quenu accepts Rindfleisch's classification as a subvariety of the vasculo-connective tissue type. We have made these comparisons for the purpose of showing how far our author is away from the standard teaching. Clinically the work is strong. The chapters on the dermoid cysts are the most satisfac¬ tory of any in the book, but in general it may be said that so far as histology is concerned, it is lamentably deficient. Medical Jurisprudence, Forensic Medicine and Toxicology. The Introduction contains a historical account of the lit¬ erature of the subject from the earliest times down to the present day, and the copious footnotes attest the pains¬ taking labor which the editor-in-chief has given to the sub¬ ject. The article on the Legal Relations of Physicians and Sur¬ geons by Mr. Becker, includes a discussion of their acquire¬ ment of the right to practice medicine and surgery ; their legal duties and obligations; their right to compensation ; their privileges and duties when summoned as witnesses and their liability for malpractice. These questions are treated with reference to the decisions of the courts and it would seem as if most questions of medico-legal character had now been so clearly commentated upon by the courts, as to leave little actual doubt as to what the law is. In regard to the question of experts, Mr. Becker states : " In some foreign countries, notably in Germany and in France, ex¬ perts in medico-legal matters have an assured official position, aud are generally not allowed to be selected at haphazard according to the will or length of purse of those who need their services. The consequence of this method of obtaining expert evidence is, that expert witnesses in those countries command a high measure of respect and honor. Unfor¬ tunately, however, in this country, where the opposite practice prevails, the weaknesses of human nature are such that the common people, newspapers, lawyers, and even the courts in some recorded opinions and decisions, have come to express a great want of confidence in the weight and value of expert testimony. This deplorable result of a bad system of procedure is universally recognized, yet our legislatures have as yet refrained from attempting to correct it." The book will be found extremely valuable, not only as a reference book, but as an instructive and readable one. The syndicate system of writing text-books has its commercial advantages, but individual writers however meritorious have no opportunity of placing their works before students, who are compelled to buy the syndicate books. From a publisher's standpoint it is only necessary to secure one professor to write an article from each of the principal medical colleges and the sale of the book is certain, and all possible rivalry reduced to a minimum. In the book before us many of the objectionable features of syndicate book writing have been eliminated, as the author's name is attached to each article. We thus know what credit should be attached to each, and where to fix the responsibility. One would be captious indeed could he find fault with those selected to write the articles in this volume, for their names are familiar to the entire profession, as those having a right to speak with authority, and they are not so numerous as in some other syndicate books. It is the system, and not the individuals that we criticise. Professor Henry M. Lyman contributes twelve chapters ; Professor Pepper, thir¬ teen ; Professor James C. Wilson, four ; Professor Fitz. three ; Professors Osier and Delafield each two ; and Professors Welch and Holland each one. The volume opens with a chapter on the biology of bacte¬ ria, infection and immunity by Wm. H. Welch. His chapter is extremely interesting, gives the morphology and classifi¬ cation, the food, vital manifestations, distribution, agencies injurious to bacteria, modifications of characters, marks of differentiation, and general considerations concerning infec¬ tion, general etiology, toxic products of bacteria, immunity, prophylactic and curative inoculations. In regard to serumtherapy Professor Welch says : "It is evident that the difficulties to he overcome in the successful application of serum-therapy to large animals and to man are great. It is important not to generalize, but to work out for each disease sepa¬ rately a sound experimental basis for this mode of treatment, as has already been done with considerable success for tetanus. This state¬ ment is sufficiently evident when we consider the varying conditions which underlie immunity from different diseases, the varying degrees of immunity attainable, and our imperfect knowledge as to both of these points as regards many diseases." The chapter on "Obesity" by Professor Lyman is one of the most original and practical of the many excellent papers in the volume. The well considered chapter by Professor Osier " On Dis¬ eases of the Blood," is beyond praise, and we may conclude this notice by saying that the book, as a whole, is not only a highly creditable production, but reflects honor on Amer¬ ican medicine.
doi:10.1001/jama.1894.02420890040024 fatcat:be63zqzuzzdqrkuvjjrmxk2cgy