A salute to the editor: Basil A. Pruitt, Jr., MD, 1995–2011

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It is a great privilege to participate in this Festschrift honoring the enormous achievements and contributions of Dr. Pruitt. I would like to highlight his tenure as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Trauma. As suggested by Dr. Pruitt at the 75th anniversary of the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma (AAST),1 the history of the Journal can be described in stages of evolution beginning with Conception, 1960; Maturation, 1961–1994, and Transmogrification, 1995–2011, during Dr. Pruitt’s oversight (Table 1).
Dr. Pruitt was destined to be the editor with his precocious interest and accomplishments in scientific writing. As a fourth-year medical student, age 26, his first publication was a systematic review of basal cell carcinoma as a complication of radiodermatitis.2 Dr. Pruitt’s first article in the Journal was an AAST podium presentation in 1965 describing the impressive reduction in burn mortality due to the use of topical sulfonamide.3 As previously noted by Dr. Pruitt,1 this seminal clinical investigation, under the direction of Dr. John Moncrief, was pivotal in his decision to pursue a career in burn management. Dr. Pruitt’s most cited article,4 presented at the American Surgical Association in 1974, detailed the role of catecholamines in the pathogenesis of the hypermetabolic response to burn injury. Shortly thereafter, Dr. Pruitt was appointed as associate editor of the Journal and served in this capacity throughout Dr. John Davis’s leadership from 1975 to 1994.
Dr. Pruitt was selected by the AAST to follow Dr. Davis as editor in 1994 and began with his first issue in January 1995. To emphasize the integral role of critical care in trauma management, he added the subtitle “Injury, Infection, and Critical Care,” which was maintained throughout his tenure. It is challenging to fully describe the enormous impact Dr. Pruitt had as an editor. Perhaps a helpful perspective, I have summarized the most cited articles published in the Journal during his leadership. For that purpose, I have further divided these years into major themes under his guidance. The first period, 1995–2002, could be termed “Sequelae of Shock” (Table 2). In 1995, the key topics included epidemiology of trauma deaths and end points of resuscitation; in 1996, multiple organ failure, admission base deficit to predict outcome, and low-molecular-weight heparin to prevent venous thromboembolism; in 1997, predicting life-threatening coagulopathy and assessing coagulation status with thromboelastography; in 1998, the abdominal compartment syndrome and the physiologic consequences of hypothermia on clot generation; in 1999, long-term outcome after trauma and the benefit of correcting occult hypoperfusion within 24 hours; in 2000, an analysis of US combat casualties in Somalia, damage control, and the role of the wound VAC; in 2001, activated factor VII for refractory coagulopathy, and blast-induced neurotrauma; and in 2002, hypotensive resuscitation and mass casualties from terrorist bombings. The second period, 2003–2006, could be termed “trauma-induced coagulopathy” (TIC) (Table 3). In 2003, remarkably in the same issue, the key articles with the first description of an acute coagulopathy of trauma prior to initial resuscitation were reported from trauma centers in the United Kingdom and United States; in 2004, the effect of temperature on clotting enzyme activity and platelet function; in 2005, the lack of benefit for activated factor VII in managing coagulopathy and the effects of acidosis on clotting; and in 2006, the impact of hemorrhage on trauma outcome and a review of massive transfusion practices around the world. The third period, 2007–2011, could be labeled “Damage Control Resuscitation” (Table 4).
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