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April 12, 1965

A Mercifully Brief History of Medicine

JAMA. 1965;192(2):121-123. doi:10.1001/jama.1965.03080150051012

Medicine began with the dawn of history. In fact it began shortly before dawn, at about 3:00 A.M., when the first Stone Age doctor was routed from his bed by a patient who thought he was dying. Transportation being none too good (this being before the invention of the wheel), by the time the doctor arrived the patient was well.

Ancient  During the Stone Age the most common complaints were gallstones, kidney stones, and stumbling over stones. Surgery was in its infancy, largely because of the difficulty of making an incision with a sharpened stone and of performing a suture with a stone needle. When a surgeon decided not to operate, everyone breathed a sigh of relief, especially the surgeon and, if he was still alive, the patient.Having no stethoscope, the Stone Age doctor was forced to place his ear directly against the patient's chest. This was not easy, if the

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