Among the crowd of reports with which we have been favoured this year, it is only necessary that we should notice a few, taken almost at random, and extract from these any passages which may be of special interest. Of all their official duties, the writing of the annual report must be to the majority of medical superintendents their most disagreeable one. They are supposed to be written for the information of Committees of Visitors, and, such being the case, need not contain more than the most meagre medical details. Yet it is advisable that each superintendent should utilise, for his own benefit and that of his brethren in the speciality, his asylum experiences, and place them on record. Now, it is more than questionable if it is a judicious plan to incorporate medical topics with those usually submitted to the perusal of Committees of Visitors, and which constitute in their eyes the only matter of importance. It is an undoubted fact that many asylum reports contain medical observations of the highest importance; but they are really lost, for we do not possess any method for facilitating reference to their contents. No man when working up a subject can afford the time to wade through all the asylum reports issued in the United Kingdom during the last twenty years. What becomes of all the reports issued annually? To obtain the true answer it is only necessary to enter the library of almost any superintendent in the country, where we may see these documents—in many of which much trouble had been bestowed in the preparation—lying in a heap of confusion at the bottom of some cupboard specially reserved for the reception of the “dead dogs,” as they have been called. Now, though it is gratifying to find in reports the records of medical experience, it is also a matter much to be regretted that good medical work should not be recorded in a more appropriate and convenient place.
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