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J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 1986 Dec;92(6):1096-8.

Baron Dominique Jean Larrey (1766-1842). Father of modern military surgery, innovater, humanist.


There is no question that Baron Larrey was the first modern military surgeon. The high morale of Napolean's troops, which contributed to the success of his armies, was in a major way dependent on Larrey's superb medical care of the wounded. It was Napoleon's brilliance to recognize this and to give Larrey free rein. Beginning in the Civil War, when ambulances first brought in the wounded to receive surgical care at the Battle of Antietam (1862), down to World War II and the Vietnam War, his principles were increasingly followed by the U.S. Army Medical Corps. In Vietnam a true "flying ambulance," the medical helicopter, was obviously the final perfection of Larrey's ambulance volante. Perhaps his dedicated humanism in the care of the wounded soldier was his best characteristic and the one that should be followed most carefully today. Even in this era of great ethical concerns for the sick and wounded, Larrey's principles set the highest of standards for all.

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