Dr. Wittmann has dedicated his life's work to improving patient care and quality of life outcomes. In the over 40 years of his highly successful career as a surgeon, critical care physician, researchers, lecturer, writer and educator Dr. Wittmann has been enthusiastic about the possibilities that start with an idea.
Dr. Wittmann's childhood shaped his ethics of hard work and perseverance. Born at the start of the Second World War he witnessed and lived through a very dark and terrifying period of history. This experience of a very young child who witnessed inhumanity and destruction served in his later life as a motivation to improve the lives of those around him. Although the deprivations of that time were vast, the one Dr. Wittmann felt most keenly was the lack of educational opportunities. Essentially self taught as a young child, Dr. Wittmann was finally able to start school at the age of 11, once his mother relocated the family to France. His love of learning has never waned.
Dr. Wittmann completed his medical studies and surgical training at the University of Hamburg which included a one year experience at UCSF Medical Center. After his training Dr. Wittmann's medical practice was broad and included general surgery, orthopedic surgery and general medicine. He took an early interest in surgical infections and much of his work was dedicated to establishing effective doses and routes of administration for the novel antibiotics of the time. Through his creative thinking measurements of therapeutic doses could be established in vivo.
In 1970 Dr. Wittmann took a position at Mission Chirurgicale de la République Fédérale d’Allemagne at the Centre Hospitalier d'Annaba in Algeria. Although he intended to stay for three years political unrest shortened the time to one year. During that time Dr. Wittmann saw the natural course of diseases and infections due to the limited access patients had to medical care. This furthered his resolve to find better therapies for operative management and post-operative care. In addition to antibiotic therapy he began to think of methods to treat the complicated surgical abdomen which requires multiple surgeries.
Back in Hamburg, Dr. Wittmann continued his research. He ultimately developed an artificial bur (Velcro) closure which would evolve into the Wittmann Patch.
In the late 1980's a new opportunity arose at the Medical College of Wisconsin for Dr. Wittmann to further his research as well as teach surgical residents as an attending professor for trauma surgery and directory of the critical care fellowship. Under the direction of Dr. Robert Condon Dr. Wittmann was able to further address effective management of the complex surgical patient as well developing outcome measurements for quality of life scores. Dr. Wittmann retired from a very successful tenure in 2000.
Since his retirement Dr. Wittmann has continued to lecture and write. His work with the Wittmann Patch led to an improved product the Wittmann Hypopack™ as well as the fulfillment of a lifetime dream to establish a means to support young, creative, and innovative physicians.
Dietmar Wittmann, M.D., Ph.D., FACS