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Background to medicine 

Background to medicine
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date: 07 March 2021

Science has always been part of Western medicine, although what counts as scientific has changed over the centuries, as have the content of medical knowledge, the tools of medical investigation, and the details of medical treatments. This brief overview develops a historical typology of medicine since antiquity. It divides the ‘kinds’ of medicine into five sections: bedside medicine, developed by the Hippocratic doctors in classical times; library medicine, associated with the scholastic mentality of the Middle Ages; hospital medicine, central to French medicine of the early 19th century; social medicine, which is about prevention, both communal and individual; and laboratory medicine, which has its natural home in the research establishment and is a critical site for the creation of medical knowledge, setting the standards for both medical science and scientific medicine.

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