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Ashley W. Oughterson - Surgeon, Soldier, Leader
*John W. Kunstman, MD & Walter E. Longo, MD
Yale University, New Haven, CT

Objective: Examine the life of Ashley W. Oughterson, a remarkable surgeon, soldier, and past president of the New England Surgical Society (NESS).
Design: Archival
Setting: Historical
Patients/Interventions/Outcomes: N/A
Results: Ashley W. Oughterson, MD (1895-1956) underwent surgical training at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital under Harvey Cushing and was a faculty surgeon at Yale University. He performed some of the earliest pancreatic resections in New England and was regarded as an excellent technical surgeon and educator.
During World War II, Colonel Oughterson was the primary ‘Surgical Consultant’ in the South Pacific. As such, he was present in nearly every battle acting as a roving inspector and senior surgeon. His meticulously-kept diary is regarded as the foremost source detailing wartime surgical care. Colonel Oughterson led the initial Army team to survey Hiroshima and Nagasaki following the nuclear bombings; co-authoring the definitive work “Medical Effects of the Atomic Bomb in Japan”.
Following the war, Oughterson resumed his academic work. In a keynote address to the 1947 American Surgical Association, he defined the role of surgeons in the evolving multidisciplinary approach to cancer. Oughterson authored numerous papers employing now-common methodologies, such as tumor registries and post-treatment survival time.
Oughterson was elected president of the NESS in 1953. His presidential address refuted the notion that surgical care was responsible for rising medical costs and commending societies such as the NESS for fostering improved healthcare. In 1956, Oughterson became a fellow of the Rockefeller Foundation, but suffered an untimely death in an airplane crash on assignment in Columbia.
Conclusions: Oughterson recognized and addressed many issues still present in medicine today. His insights are as applicable today in advancing surgical care.


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