Philip Syng Physick
Philip Syng Physick (July 7, 1768 – December 15, 1837) was an American physician born in Philadelphia. He has been called "the father of American surgery."
Life and career
Physick graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1785, then began the study of medicine under Adam Kuhn, and continued it in London under John Hunter, becoming, on January 1, 1790, house surgeon of St. George's hospital. In 1791 he received his license from the Royal College of Surgeons in London, and was invited by Hunter to assist him in his professional practice, but after a few months went to the University of Edinburgh, where he received his degree in medicine in 1792.
He returned to Philadelphia to practice, taking a position at Pennsylvania Hospital. One of the foremost surgeons of the time, Physick was among the few doctors who remained in the city to care for the sick during Philadelphia's decimating yellow fever epidemic of 1793. His many patients included John Adams's daughter, Dolley Madison, Chief Justice John Marshall (from whom he removed almost 1,000 bladder stones, effecting a complete cure), and Benjamin Rush. When President Andrew Jackson consulted with Physick about his lung hemorrhages, he was told to stop smoking.
Physick pioneered the use of the stomach pump, used autopsy as a regular means of observation and discovery, excelled in cataract surgery, and was responsible for the design of a number of surgical instruments, such as the needle forceps, the guillotine/snare for performing tonsillectomies, and improved splints and traction devices for treatment of dislocations; he also innovated many operative techniques. Physick was one of the most sought-after medical lecturers of the 19th century. His lectures prepared a generation of surgeons for service throughout America. It is because of his status as a teacher that he was dubbed the "Father of American Surgery".
Physick died in Philadelphia and was interred at Christ Church Burial Ground.
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