Pennsylvania Hospital was founded in 1751 by Dr. Thomas Bond
and Benjamin Franklin “to care for the sick-poor and insane
who were wandering the streets of Philadelphia.” At the
time, Philadelphia was the fastest growing city in the 13 colonies.
In 1730, the population numbered 11,500 and had grown to 15,000
by 1750 (the city continued to grow and by 1776, its 40,000 residents
made Philadelphia the second largest English-speaking city in
the British Empire).
The docks and wharves along the Delaware River teemed with activity
as ships bound for foreign ports loaded up with flour, meat and
lumber while overseas vessels delivered European-manufactured
goods and wines. Foreign visitors noted with envy the city’s
growing prosperity. Although the majority of the population was
neither extremely wealthy nor extremely poor, there was a significant
increase in the number
Hospital, an institution that is built, staffed, and equipped for the diagnosis of disease; for the treatment, both medical and surgical, of the sick and the injured; and for their housing during this process. The modern hospital also often serves as a centre for investigation and for teaching.
To better serve the wide-ranging needs of the community, the modern hospital has often developed outpatient facilities, as well as emergency, psychiatric, and rehabilitation services. In addition, “bedless hospitals” provide strictly ambulatory (outpatient) care and day surgery. Patients arrive at the facility for short appointments. They may also stay for treatment in surgical or medical units for part of a day or for a full day, after which they are discharged for follow-up by a primary care health provider.
Hospitals have long existed in most countries. Developing countries, which contain
Maintaining a comfortable state of health is a goal shared by much of the world’s population past and present, thus the history of health and medicine weaves a thread connecting us with our ancestors’ human experiences. Yet it’s easy to assume that studying it involves either celebrating the ‘eureka moments’ of well-known heroes or laughing at outdated therapies. But, as I set out to show in my book, The History of Medicine in 100 Facts (Amberley Publishing, 2015), medicine’s past features plenty of lesser-known but equally fascinating episodes…
Some of the earliest named doctors were women
Saqqara is a huge archaeological site about 20 miles south of present-day Cairo. Five millennia ago it was the necropolis for the ancient Egyptian city of Memphis, and remains home to one of the oldest surviving buildings in the world – the step pyramid of Djoser.
A nearby tomb reveals the image of
The history of medicine shows how societies have changed in their approach to illness and disease from ancient times to the present. Early medical traditions include those of Babylon, China, Egypt and India. Sushruta, from India, introduced the concepts of medical diagnosis and prognosis. The Hippocratic Oath was written in ancient Greece in the 5th century BCE, and is a direct inspiration for oaths of office that physicians swear upon entry into the profession today. In the Middle Ages, surgical practices inherited from the ancient masters were improved and then systematized in Rogerius’s The Practice of Surgery. Universities began systematic training of physicians around 1220 CE in Italy.
Invention of the microscope was a consequence of improved understanding, during the Renaissance. Prior to the 19th century, humorism (also known as humoralism) was thought to explain the cause of disease but it was gradually replaced by the germ theory of
Early medicine and folklore
Unwritten history is not easy to interpret, and, although much may be learned from a study of the drawings, bony remains, and surgical tools of early humans, it is difficult to reconstruct their mental attitude toward the problems of disease and death. It seems probable that, as soon as they reached the stage of reasoning, they discovered by the process of trial and error which plants might be used as foods, which of them were poisonous, and which of them had some medicinal value. Folk medicine or domestic medicine, consisting largely in the use of vegetable products, or herbs, originated in this fashion and still persists.
But that is not the whole story. Humans did not at first regard death and disease as natural phenomena. Common maladies, such as colds or constipation, were accepted as part of existence and dealt with by means of such herbal