W. Wendell Green

1953 to 1954

The flood of criticism that is currently being directed against the practitioners of medicine has caused our profession to reflect upon its shortcomings and engage in some soul-searching of its own. This cannot fail to have a beneficial effect although there is nothing new in this concern of the physician over his own inadequacies and those of his colleagues. In the preface of an early text on proctology published in 1887, the authors voiced their concern over the practices of what they referred to as "the modern Western Rectal Specialist." They wrote: ". . . he now undertakes to treat other common rectal disorders as well, in a fashion peculiarly his own and suited rather to his own convenience as an itinerant than to his patients' real welfare."

We still have the counterpart of the old "modern Western Rectal Specialist" with us today in all parts of our country in the attenuated form of the self-styled proctologist who directly and by inference claims that he has certain methods of his own with which he can treat all rectal disorders without causing the patient any discomfort or loss of time and without the benefits of hospitalization. Practitioners of this type will be with us as long as gullible patients can be found, and vocal opposition alone will not be sufficient to counteract the discredit that they reflect upon our specialty.