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Museum of Osteopathic Medicine

iConnect News


Difference in medical approach could mean life or death

May 11, 2006
Posted In: Research News

In the bird flu pandemic of 1918, patients of D.O.s were 24 times more likely to survive

KIRKSVILLE, Mo. (May 11, 2006 ) – Should the widely prophesied avian influenza pandemic become a reality, it wouldn’t be the first time a killer flu bug has swept the globe. And your chances of surviving would be better if you were seeing an osteopathic physician. In the bird flu pandemic of 1918, six percent of patients in the care of allopathic physicians (M.D.) died, compared to only one quarter of one percent of those treated by osteopathic physicians (D.O.).

From 1917-1919, at least 40 million people died from the deadly flu, which also infected many people in Kirksville, the home of A.T. Still University’s Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Dr. George Still, the nephew of the founder of osteopathic medicine, Andrew T. Still, took charge to care for the sick and prevent the spread of the virus in Kirksville. Dr. Still was highly critical of what he witnessed as poor treatment choices by allopathic physicians (M.D.).

“The country finds those very people who ought to know most about sanitation, that is the Medical Doctors, breaking every rule of the laws of sanitation in preventative medicine,” wrote Dr. Still.

Indeed, the methods of treatment and care chosen by allopathic physicians often resulted in increased infection rates, especially in hospitals, and high death tolls. For instance, the flu caused high fever, which most allopathic doctors treated with aspirin. The fever came down, but also lowered the blood pressure of the patient, which ended with the patient “left to drown in his own secretions.”

Dr. Still’s other criticisms of allopathic methods, which he termed “little short of criminal,” included slow recognition and response time and failure to recognize the virus’s impact on the body as a system.

Much has changed since 1918. Medicines are more effective, and technology is far more advanced. Although many say the catastrophic predictions are exaggerated, you might consider seeking out a D.O. near you.

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