Philadelphia Reflections

The musings of a physician who has served the community for over six decades

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Medical Club of Philadelphia
The Medical Club of Philadelphia was founded in the Nineteenth century, as a social club of doctors devoted to non-medical interests. Lots of famous names, here.

Appendix H Philadelphia Public Ledger, May 25, 1925


THE American public's interest in health matters is the country's greatest boon in the prevention of disease. Dr. J. Basil Hall, President of the British Medical Association declared here last night. He expressed the hope that the British public would take the lesson of the Americans in this respect. Education of the public to take care of themselves, he characterized as the doctors' noblest task.

Dr. Hall is in the United States as the officially invited guest of the American Medical Association to attend the annual convention of the body in Atlantic City. Yesterday he was the guest of the Medical Club of Philadelphia, addressing the full membership last evening at a reception in his honor at the Bellevue-Stratford.

He commented on American methods in contrast to British, particularly in regard to medical services for the working classes.

Tracing the history of the National Health Insurance Act in Britain, which was fostered and made a reality by Lloyd George, when he was Prime Minister, Dr. Hall stated that it had worked a hardship of no inconsiderable means on the English profession. The act provides for the payment by workers of a certain portion of their wages into a fund, augmented by an equal sum from the employer to produce free medical attention and sick pay while ill. It is under Government control and the amount given to the panel physician is comparatively small, while hospitals and consultants have to render service gratis in the majority of instances.

'Elaborateness in detail is the outstanding characteristic of American practice'' said Dr. Hall during his address. "In my opinion, the American physician is more elaborate in his treatments than is necessary. Is it always necessary to have blood counts, X-ray examinations, protracted examinations, protracted diagnosis, complete physical examinations, analyses of all sorts, tests for this and that, consultations and the like? That appears to be the American theory.

"In England we don't do it, because the patients can't afford to pay for it, and we don't believe that the result of the treatment accorded them without the co-adjuncts is different from the result of things are done."

"My survey is too premature to be dogmatic it may seem" he continued, "but the American possesses the infinite capacity for taking pains. In my opinion, it is sometimes overdone. It makes service prohibitive but to the wealthy. The elaborate method and technique employed in every-day practice will eventually have to be modified, and much, in the future."

In addition to being the president of the British Medical Association, Dr. Hall is a fellow of the Royal College of England, Master of the Queens' Hospital and surgeon-in-chief of the Royal Infirmary at Bradford, England, where he makes his home. He is acknowledged to be the leading living surgeon of the British Empire and a specializing authority on abdominal surgery.

Dr. Harley Smith, former president of the Academy of Medicine, Toronto, Canada, also addressed the meeting, which was presided over by Dr. Charles W, Burr, president of the Medical Club of Philadelphia. Among the many distinguished physicians and surgeons present were Dr. Basil Graves, of London, who has been lecturing at the University of Pennsylvania as a specialist on the eye, and Dr. William E. Hughes.

Originally published: Tuesday, April 14, 2009; most-recently modified: Monday, May 13, 2019

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