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No place for Nazis in medicine

作者:须舾    发布时间:2019-02-28 06:20:03    

By A Nazi war criminal’s contribution to medicine is being slowly written out of the medical record. Until a few decades ago, “Reiter’s syndrome” was the term used to describe the painful disorder in which a patient simultaneously suffers the infection-triggered symptoms of arthritis, conjunctivitis and urethritis. The syndrome was named after Hans Reiter, the German doctor who identified it in 1916. Reiter later became an enthusiastic Nazi. He ran Hitler’s Reich Health Office, and during the second world war designed typhoid inoculation experiments that killed more than 250 people at the Buchenwald concentration camp. He was also implicated in enforced sterilisations and euthanasia. Appalled at the association of the syndrome’s name with such crimes, a group of doctors decided in 1977 to begin a campaign for their colleagues to abandon the term, and name the syndrome “reactive arthritis” instead. Now an analysis of online medical journals shows their efforts are paying off. David Lu and Kenneth Katz at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine examined 539 papers published on the subject between 1998 and 2003. In 1998, 57 per cent of them used the term Reiter’s syndrome. By 2003, the figure had fallen to just 34 per cent. “This shows a clear trend away from unqualified use of the Reiter eponym,” the pair report in Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology (vol 53,

 

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