Surgeon's death marks end of an era in medicine [Letter]

January 27, 2014

Fred Rasmussen's reflections on the late Dr. Elmer Hoffman quite clearly characterized the very distinguished career and the many accomplishments of the Baltimore surgical icon ("Dr. Elmer Hoffman, breast cancer surgeon," Jan. 22). However, it is with sweet sadness that we note that Dr. Hoffman's passing marks the end of a generation of general surgeons who practiced in our communities. These were the clinicians who "did it all" before the shift to super specialists and sub-specialists. They truly cared for the entire patient, no matter what the ailment. They were "family surgeons" who operated upon multiple generations and transitioned through a remarkable period of time during the last half of the 20th century in which procedures, treatments and diagnostics radically changed our approaches to disease.

Dr. Hoffman was a consummate surgeon and clinician. He was a man of infinite skill and provided superior patient care; he was a "gentleman and a scholar" in the truest sense. As Mr. Rasmussen pointed out, he, along with Dr. Stanley Klatsky, was the first to recognize the role of prophylactic mastectomy with immediate reconstruction.

Dr. Hoffman was a "stickler" for detail and a kind, caring and compassionate clinician. As surgical resident, I learned from him the important aspects of patient care and the "art of surgery."

Dr. Michael J. Schultz, Towson

The writer is medical director of the Breast Center at the University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center.

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