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Medicine

MEDICINE. The science of medicine, as we understand it, has for its province the treatment of disease. The word " medicine " (Lat. medicina: sc. ars, art of healing, from mederi, to heal) may be used very widely, to include Pathology (q.v.), the theory of the causation of disease, or, very narrowly, to mean only the drug or form of remedy prescribed by the physician this being more properly the subject of Therapeutics (q.v.) and Pharmacology (q.v.). But it is necessary in practice, for historical comprehensiveness, to keep the wider meaning in view.

Disease (see PATHOLOGY) is the correlative of health, and the word is not capable of a more penetrating definition. From the time of Galen, however, it has been usual to speak of the life of the body either as proceeding in accordance with nature (Kara <j>v<nv, secundum naturam) or as overstepping the bounds of nature (irapa <t>vcriv, praeter naturam). Taking disease to be a deflexion from the line of health, the first requisite of medicine is an extensive and intimate acquaintance with the norm of the body. The structure and functions of the body form the subject of Anatomy (q.v.) and Physiology (q.v.).

The medical art (ars medendi) divides itself into departments and subdepartments. The most fundamental division is into internal and external medicine, or into medicine proper and surgery (q.v.). The treatment of wounds, injuries and deformities, with operative interference in general, is the special department of surgical practice (the corresponding parts of pathology, including inflammation, repair, and removable tumours, are sometimes grouped together as surgical pathology) ; and where the work of the profession is highly subdivided, surgery becomes the exclusive province of the surgeon, while internal medicine remains to the physician. A third great department of practice is formed by obstetric medicine or midwifery (see OBSTETRICS); and dentistry (q.v.), or dental surgery, is given up to a distinct branch of the profession.

A state of war, actual or contingent, gives occasion to special developments of medical and surgical practice (military hygiene and military surgery). Wounds caused by projectiles, sabres, etc., are the special subject of naval and military surgery; while ,under the head of military hygiene we may include the general subject of ambulances, the sanitary arrangements of camps, and the various forms of epidemic camp sickness.

The administration of the civil and criminal law involves frequent relations with medicine, and the professional subjects most likely to arise in that connexion, together with a summary of causes celebres, are formed into the department of MEDICAL JURISPRUDENCE (q.v.).

Ill preserving the public health, the medical profession is again brought into direct relation with the state, through the public medical officers.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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