Could JFK Be Saved Today?

As you must know by now, I read the healthcare articles. One of my favored spots is MedPage Today where I pick up the less technical information on what is going on in healthcare.

November 22. 1963 is the day President John Kennedy was assassinated. My whereabouts was sitting in a high school study hall along with 100 other boys getting through my first year at Lane Technical H.S., an all boys school. November 22nd and the principal, who we called “froggy” because of the twangy noise from the school speakers pre-announcement, came across the school loud speaker announcing John F. Kennedy had been shot about the same time as the thought had passed through my head. Or at least, I remember it this way. It is hard to know what one would think at such an announcement or result at such an age. I wouldn’t till about 5 years later.

A medical question arises as to;

“How different might John Kennedy’s care be in 2020? Could modern medicine techniques have helped President Kennedy to survive if his shooting happened today?”

Doctor/surgeon C. James Carrico was the first Parkland Hospital resident to assess the condition of John F Kennedy where he was brought to in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1967. The condition of the president being unresponsive, slow agonal respirations (gasping), and no palpable pulse or blood pressure. President Kennedy was intubated via tracheostomy by expanding a bullet exit wound in his neck and an anesthesiologist hooked him up to a ventilator. Three hundred mg of hydrocortisone were administered due to the presence of Addison’s disease..

In his testimony before the Warren Commission, Dr. Carrico said the identity of the patient did not disrupt his treatment:

“We have seen a large number of acutely injured people, and acutely ill people, and the treatment has been carried out enough that this is almost reflex, if you will. Certainly everyone was emotionally affected. I think, if anything, the emotional aspect made us think faster, work faster and better.”

Carrico also told the commission that he’d written a letter to his children about the assassination, “just a little homespun philosophy. I just said that there was a lot of extremism both in Dallas and in the nation as a whole, and in an attitude of extremism, a warped mind can flourish much better than in a more stable atmosphere.”

“Extremism” portending a future .  .   .

At the virtual American College of Emergency Physicians annual meeting, Speaker Terry Kowalenko, MD and the chairman of emergency medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina discussed how JFK’s medical treatment “might” be different today. In summary, Parkland’s trauma team in 1963 managed to provide virtually the same care to the fatally injured president that someone with similar injuries would get now.

Today, emergency physicians might have intubated the president through the mouth and bagged the president instead of performing a tracheostomy. And physicians today would likely put in a central line, he said. “But for the most part, everything would have been done pretty much the same.

The care was very reasonable and appropriate. Probably not much more would have been done differently if the shooting happened today, said in an interview with MedPage Today. It was a last-ditch effort.”

The team pronounced Kennedy dead at 1 p.m. after a priest performed last rites.

Could We Save JFK Today?“, MedPage Today, November 3, 2020