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Famous Eastern Roman (‘Byzantine’) physicians – Novo Scriptorium


Su NovoScriptorium un articolo che illustra la grande capacità organizzativa bizantina della Sanità, dagli ospedali ai servizi sanitari e a tutto ciò che è collegato col concetto di Salute, concetti che sono stati sviluppati nei nostri giorni e che sono alla base del moderno Sistema Sanitario.

The Byzantine Empire lasted for over 1100 years and the organization of a functional health care system was undeniable merit of Byzantine medicine.

In Byzantium, hospitals functioned near monasteries. The administrative head of the entire institution was called the nosocomos. Two doctors and a lot of assistants, who learned, not helped, were working in each section.

Women were cared for by a woman doctor, and at night there was a service call.

Two inspectors were visiting the hospital day and night inquiring whether patients are satisfied or have any complaint to make.

Each hospital had a dispensary in which worked two doctors and a number of assistants.

There were specialized hospitals – e.g. hospital doctors in Mangane dealt exclusively with diseases of the digestive tract.

Nurses were instructed on the spot and formed health care professionals’ associations.

Doctors were trained in two ways, individually or in groups ie in school.

Generally, medical profession was transmitted from father to son.

Medical schools were established around hospitals and one of the doctors acted as a teacher. Students were practicing in hospitals or clinics. Education was free. Teachers were chosen very carefully and students had to accumulate a lot of experience before start practicing as physicians. This period of training was called kronia.

After the training, the student had to pass proficiency exam and answer question of a maestro, the head of the school or the emperor’s physician, bearing the title of actuarios.

The candidate who passed the examination received as a sign of promotion a medal or badge to distinguish himself from impostors.

Medical practice was based on the theory of the four humors.

In therapy, Byzantine physicians used, along with the old remedies, new exotic ones, made from the three regna. An important role was played by diet recommendations. There were used curative and preventive diets, but there were also exaggeration. Doctors used to recommend to their patients diets according to different seasons, months, professions or social class.

In order to master these diets and astrological data, doctors had to read a lot and collect many books. So, they had copies of classical medicine textbooks and many copybooks of diets and complicate recipes.

Hospitals sheltered vast libraries with valuable medical works.

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