Though a small-town facility, today’s Copper Queen Community Hospital has garnered national attention for being ahead of its time in many ways, including its use of the best technology for medical care.
That includes its use of electronic medical records, digital imaging, which can send everything from x-rays to CT scans anywhere in the world to be read by experts immediately and telemedicine, which links patients here to specialists in stroke, cardiology, trauma and much more, in real time.
But I was amazed to discover as well that the Copper Queen was an advanced hospital more than a century ago. The Bisbee Daily Review reported in October 1910 that a 3-year-old Benson girl, who had swallowed a 5-cent piece 10 days earlier, had been brought to the Bisbee hospital after all other attempts to remove the coin had failed.
Here’s an illustration of one type of probang, at right in photo, that was used by Copper Queen doctors to remove the coin.
Her physician, a Dr. Powell, tried to use a stomach tube to remove the coin from her esophagus, but was not able to capture it. He suggested taking her to the Copper Queen to take advantage of the facility’s x-ray machine.
“The wonderful rays showed plainly the location of the coin which was directly opposite the collar bone in a vertical position,” the paper reported.
The coin was so large that it couldn’t complete its trip to the stomach and had been there long enough to become “firmly seated.” The little Martin girl (no first name given) could not swallow solid food, but could take milk or water.
At the Copper Queen Hospital, the girl was put under ether. Several x-rays (at that time, the X was capitalized) were taken and doctors used a probang, an instrument designed to remove obstructions from the esophagus, without success. In fact, the bristles on the end of the instrument were bent. Doctors tried the procedure three times, all without success.
(I wondered about the spelling of the word that came out “probang” in the paper, but it’s an actual term. It is a device invented in the 17th century by a Welshman, W. Rumsey. It is about 12-14 inches long and has bristles or a sponge on the end. The one in the illustration at left (it’s the instrument on the right) has a sponge; the one used by Copper Queen doctors had bristles. It is probably a variant on the word “probe.”
(Click on the illustration to increase its size so you can reach the names of the various instruments.)
If one won’t work, try two
When they discovered the probang wouldn’t move the coin, they took more x-rays, with the instrument in place. “The rays showed that the coin bent the end of the probang in such a way that it could not draw the coin back.” Continue reading