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Wound Care and Tetanus Treatment in Early Qing Dynasty (1723-1820): An Analysis of Tetanus-Caused Death Due to Scuffling
According to the legal code of “a minor wound in caused by the initial assault, resulting in death from tetanus” established by Emperor Yongzheng in 1734, if a victim died of tetanus, the convict would be considered for commutation. Therefore, the law enforcement officer must summon those who were involved in the case, such as the victim’s family or physicians, as witness to understand the treatment given to the victim in order to evaluate the cause of death The paper analyzes the civil wound treatment and tetanus treatment from 334 cases of deaths resulted from tetanus in scuffles in the early Qing Dynasty. First, it has been observed that the public often had difficulty in seeking medical treatment due to geographical or economic constraint. Under these circumstances, various folk medicine often became the choice of the public in wound treatment. Secondly, in view of the case records, physicians’ treatment of tetanus was quite diverse; while internal remedies accounted for most treatment, external application, acupuncture and cupping therapy as well as other external treatment were often adopted. While there were physicians equipped with high skills, “wandering doctors (zou fang yi 走方醫)” who provided simple, affordable and fast treatment were still indispensable to the public at the bottom of the society. Finally, change of physician or diagnosis by multiple physicians was also observed in the process of wound treatment. It is worth noting that some physicians identified themselves as the members of “department of surgery” or “department of traumatology” and occasionally took the leading role in a diagnosis by multiple physicians, demonstrating an emerging professional awareness among surgeons at the time.
The Journal of History