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General Information
· Achievements in remedial and preventative
medicine very good considering the scale of
problems, and the level of medical
skill/knowledge at the time
· First war where more men died in the conflict
than from disease
· This contrasts sharply with the Boer War and
the Crimean War, where deaths from disease
far outweighed those from violent action.…read more

Slide 3

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What were the main issues?
· Latrines
­ Lessons learnt from the development of public health in urban Britain
­ Digging and positioning of latrines was crucial to the health of the soldiers
· Lice
­ Affected everybody + very hard to remove
­ Caused "trench fever" as well as irritation- recurring, flu-like symptoms
­ Delousing stations set up in rear areas, but the lice persisted
· Trench foot
­ Tightly lacked boots, which restricted circulation, alongside cold mud and
water led to trench foot
­ Feet swelled and gangrene developed. When this happened, amputation
was necessary.
­ Allot of effort went into preventing gangrene.
­ Whale oil issued to rub into feet and men ordered to take a dry pair of
socks with them when they went to the front
­ Problem was reduced but never completely solved…read more

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How were the wounded treated?
· Royal Army Medical Corps underwent a massive expansion
· But there was an inevitable shortage of doctors, despite
the fact that 25% doctors had signed up by 1915
· Volunteers were taken from the USA
· One hospital ship and one hospital train was allotted to
each division
· Infection was a major problem- wounds went septic
quickly. Dirty mud and water containing bacteria made the
problem worse.
· Medical knowledge and technology was old fashioned, and
there was a lack of antibiotics
· Every company commander was given a stock of morphine
tablets
· Inoculation vs typhoid and better hygiene meant there was
only 2% of the number of cases of typhoid seen in the Boer
War…read more

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Shell Shock
· Nervous strain and disorders were little
understood- labelled generally as "shell-shock"
· January 1915- neurologist Turner ordered to
investigate the condition
· Mental Health Bill 1915- anyone suffering from
mental disorder as a result of the war treated for
6 months in special mental institutions
· No easy answers but neither the army nor the
government were indifferent to the problem…read more

Slide 6

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Improvements in Key Areas
· Blood transfusions were introduced and
experimented with
· American surgeon Cushing served with the
British army and gained experience of head
injuries that helped the cause of brain surgery
· Artificial limbs were improved and widely
used
· Skin transplants advanced…read more

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