Portal:Medicine
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Portal:Medicine

The Medicine Portal

Marble statue of Asclephius on a pedestal, symbol of medicine in Western medicine

Medicine is the science and practice of establishing the diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, and prevention of disease. 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 around for thousands of years, during most of which it was an art (an area of skill and knowledge) 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). While stitching technique for sutures is an art learned through practice, the knowledge of what happens at the cellular and molecular level in the tissues being stitched arises through science.

Prescientific forms of medicine are now known as traditional medicine and folk medicine, though they do not fall within the modern definition of "medicine" which is based in medical science. Traditional medicine and folk medicine remain commonly used with, or instead of, scientific medicine and are thus called alternative medicine (meaning "[something] other than medicine", from Latin alter, "other"). For example, evidence on the effectiveness of acupuncture is "variable and inconsistent" for any condition, but is generally safe when done by an appropriately trained practitioner. In contrast, alternative treatments outside the bounds not just of scientific medicine, but also outside the bounds of safety and efficacy are termed quackery. Quackery can encompass an array of practices and practitioners, irrespective of whether they are prescientific (traditional medicine and folk medicine) or modern pseudo-scientific, including chiropractic which rejects modern scientific germ theory of disease (instead believing without evidence that human diseases are caused by invisible subluxation of the bones, predominately of the spine and less so of other bones), with just over half of chiropractors also rejecting the science of immunization. Read more...

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An ambulance in San Jose del Cabo, Mexico

An ambulance is a vehicle for transporting people to, from or between places of treatment for an illness or injury. In the modern context it is also the vehicle commonly used to bring medical care to patients outside of the hospital and, when appropriate, to transport the patient to hospital for follow-up care and further testing. There is also a modified form of the ambulance used in several jurisdictions that only carries one member of ambulance crew to the scene to provide care but is not used to transport the patient. In these cases a patient who requires transportation to hospital will require a patient carrying ambulance to attend in addition to the fast responder. The term ambulance comes from the Latin word ambulare, meaning to walk or move about which is a reference to early medical care where patients were moved by lifting or wheeling. The word is most commonly associated with the land-based, motorized emergency vehicles that administer emergency care to those with acute illnesses or injuries, hereafter known as emergency ambulances. These are usually fitted with flashing warning lights and sirens to facilitate their movement through traffic. (More...)

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Incubator-tahrir.jpg
Premature baby in an incubator. El Tahrir el Aam (General Liberation Hospital), Basrah, Iraq.

Photo credit: Thomas Hartwell

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