Developments in Patient Care

Developments in Patient Care

Middle Ages (c.500-c.1500)

  • Hospitals were not meant for treating illnesses, rather they were places where the poor, old, orphans, and lepers were cared for.
  • The Church played a major role in providing care for the sick. Monks and nuns had basic knowledge of care and remedies.
  • Herbs and plants were used for treatment, known as herbal remedies, which were often based on superstition or tradition rather than scientific understanding.

Early Modern Period (1500-1800)

  • Barber-surgeons became recognized professionals; they combined the roles of haircutting and surgery, often performing procedures like bloodletting and teeth extraction.
  • With the establishment of royal hospitals, care for the poor and sick became a little more organized, though effectiveness of treatments remained limited.
  • Quackery and charlatanism flourished, with self-proclaimed ‘healers’ peddling all sorts of dubious cures.

19th Century

  • The onset of the Industrial Revolution led to growth of cities and hospitals became places to treat the sick, mainly serving the poor population.
  • Florence Nightingale’s work during the Crimean War led to major reforms in nursing and sanitary conditions in hospitals.
  • Public health reforms increased focus on preventative measures like clean water and sanitation, thus improving overall health and reducing hospital admissions.

20th Century to Present Day

  • The founding of the National Health Service (NHS) in 1948 revolutionised access to healthcare, offering treatment free at the point of use for everyone.
  • The discovery and implementation of antibiotics dramatically improved patient survival rate and revolutionised the approach to treating infection.
  • Development of technologies such as MRI and CT scanners improved diagnostics leading to more effective treatments.
  • Modern palliative care focuses not just on treating illness, but also improving the quality of life for patients with serious illnesses, addressing physical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs.