Monday, 21 May 2012

Hunterian Medical School

Set up by the eminent physician William Hunter in Soho's Great Windmill Street in the 1760s, the school which Decimus Doyle attends was one of several in London educating gentlemen in the medical arts. Medical practices were often barbaric, using similar methods that had been common for centuries, which yielded little other than killing the patient with a different affliction than the original ailment. Leeching (or blood letting), purgation and cold water dousing were common. There were three medical institutions: the Royal College of Physicians, the Royal College of Surgeons, and the Society of Apothecaries. Physicians were university-educated and considered the most knowledgeable about medicine. They were not permitted to act as surgeons or dispense drugs as apothecaries. They were only permitted to examine patients, diagnose disease, and prescribe medications, and in 1800 there were 179 licensed physicians, though there were many more unlicensed ones. Decimus Doyle, therefore, was entering a rarified world. Surgeons performed operations, set broken bones, and treated accident cases and skin disorders. Apothecaries were not only druggists responsible for the sale, compounding, and supply of drugs but, thanks to the Apothecaries Act of 1815, were able to provide medical advice and prescribe medication themselves. 

Nearest tube Piccadilly.

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