Portal:Medicine

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The color fresco Care of The Sick by Domenico di Bartolo, 1441–1442, depicting the Santa Maria della Scala hospital in Siena, Italy

Medicine is the science and practice of caring for a patient, managing the diagnosis, prognosis, prevention, treatment, palliation of their injury or disease, and promoting their health. Medicine encompasses a variety of health care practices evolved to maintain and restore health by the prevention and treatment of illness. Contemporary medicine applies biomedical sciences, biomedical research, genetics, and medical technology to diagnose, treat, and prevent injury and disease, typically through pharmaceuticals or surgery, but also through therapies as diverse as psychotherapy, external splints and traction, medical devices, biologics, and ionizing radiation, amongst others.

Medicine has been practiced since prehistoric times, and for most of this time it was an art (an area of creativity and skill), frequently having connections to the religious and philosophical beliefs of local culture. For example, a medicine man would apply herbs and say prayers for healing, or an ancient philosopher and physician would apply bloodletting according to the theories of humorism. In recent centuries, since the advent of modern science, most medicine has become a combination of art and science (both basic and applied, under the umbrella of medical science). For example, while stitching technique for sutures is an art learned through practice, knowledge of what happens at the cellular and molecular level in the tissues being stitched arises through science.

Prescientific forms of medicine, now known as traditional medicine or folk medicine, remain commonly used in the absence of scientific medicine and are thus called alternative medicine. Alternative treatments outside of scientific medicine with ethical, safety and efficacy concerns are termed quackery. (Full article...)

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Human karyotype with color added to distinguish chromosome pairs.

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  • ...that during the "Age of Heroic Medicine" (1780-1850), educated professional physicians aggressively practiced "heroic medicine", including bloodletting (venesection), intestinal purging (calomel), vomiting (tartar emetic), profuse sweating (diaphoretics) and blistering? These medical treatments were well-intentioned, and often well-accepted by the medical community, but were actually harmful to the patient.
  • ...thalidomide is a drug that was sold during the late 1950s and 1960s to pregnant women as an antiemetic? It was later found to be teratogenic, causing amelia and phocomelia. However, it is still used for other indications such as for leprosy and multiple myeloma, with close regulation through the System for Thalidomide Education and Prescribing Safety (STEPS) program.

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