In his 38-year career at the Tulane University School of Medicine, Dr. Norman McSwain gained international acclaim for developing emergency medical procedures used in hospitals and the military. (Photo by Rick Olivier)
Internationally renowned trauma surgeon Dr. Norman McSwain, who helped transform the way doctors and first responders treat the most severely injured, leaves an “unparalleled” legacy at Tulane and beyond, according to friends and co-workers.
McSwain, 78, died Tuesday (July 28) at his French Quarter home after a brief hospitalization for a cerebral bleed earlier this month. Funeral arrangements are: visitation from 3 until 7 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 15, and from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Sunday (Aug. 16), followed by a tribute service, all at Lake Lawn Metairie Funeral Home, 5100 Pontchartrain Blvd.
“His commitment to improving the care of the injured patient saved countless lives and improved the quality of life of untold millions of people.'—Dr. Lee Hamm, dean, School of Medicine
Honored in 2009 with the Senior Vice President"s Teaching Scholar Award, McSwain was known for sharing his 18 "Rules of Patient Care" with medical students and colleagues. The document is signed with "Tsa-La-Gi," Cherokee for "medicine man," reflecting his affinity for Native American cultures.
McSwain relocated to New Orleans because he considered Charity Hospital to be one of the nation"s most important trauma centers. But his efforts resonated worldwide: His work with the American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma and National Association of EMTs resulted in a Pre-Hospital Trauma Life Support program that is a global standard for trauma care. That program has trained more than 500,000 people in 45 countries.
McSwain wrote numerous textbooks and articles and received many awards for his trauma work. He is the only person in the history of the American College of Surgeons to receive all five of its major trauma awards.
Dr. Peter Meade, who holds the William Henderson Chair in Surgery at Tulane, remembered McSwain as the surgeon everyone wanted to emulate. Despite his legendary status as a doctor, he was approachable and generous.
“The great ones don"t have to act great. There was a tremendous amount of love for this man at all levels of the hospital,” Meade said. “You just don"t meet a lot of people like that. He meant a lot to us. He was Tulane.”
The family has requested that in lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Norman E. McSwain, Jr., M.D., FACS, Endowed Trauma Fund, c/o Tulane University School of Medicine, Department of Surgery, 1430 Tulane Ave. SL-22, New Orleans, LA. 70112, and/or to CaringBridge.com.