This section is from the book "Materia Medica: Pharmacology: Therapeutics Prescription Writing For Students and Practitioners", by Walter A. Bastedo. Also available from Amazon: Materia Medica: Pharmacology: Therapeutics: Prescription Writing for Students and Practitioners.
"Medicine sometimes cures, it often relieves, it always consoles"
The physician's calling has arisen from the needs of the sick, a person who is ill desiring the services of some one who can help him to get well. If the sick man cannot be made well, he wants as much improvement in his health as possible, so that he may do things; for example, attend to his business, or at least get about. If his health cannot be improved, he wants his comfort promoted and his life prolonged. Thus the objects of the practice of medicine are: to prolong life, to secure comfort, to improve health, or to promote recovery.
The physician accomplishes these objects by doing something for his patients, i. e., by treating them. Therefore his ability to treat his patients successfully is what constitutes his direct personal value for them, and is the ultimate raison d'etre of the physician's calling. Hence the importance of a familiarity with the available means of treatment, i. e., with remedial or therapeutic measures.
Therapeutics is the science of the use of remedial measures. When a physician orders a patient to bed, he employs a therapeutic measure. Also when he orders a cold bath, a cathartic, or the application of a mustard plaster; or when he applies a splint to a broken arm, or removes an inflamed appendix, or sits by the bed and calms a nervous patient.
Preventive medicine goes a step further than remedial medicine, in that it designs to prevent the appearance or spread of disease.
The main therapeutic and preventive measures may be grouped as follows:
1. Hygienic - those which have to do with cleanliness, disinfection, the prevention of the spread of contagion, ventilation, the selection of a patient's bedroom, care of bedding, clothing, etc.
2. Mechanical - the use of bandages, splints, ligatures, catheterization to empty the bladder, massage, gymnastics, etc.
3. Operative - the performance of surgical and obstetric operations.
4. Physical - the use of physical agents: heat, cold, light, electricity, x-rays, radium, etc.
6. Dietetic - the modifications of diet for the sick.
7. Suggestive or psychotherapeutic - suggestion, hypnotism, mental buoying, etc. The psychic influence of a physician is of great importance, and to reassure a patient when she is fearing the worst, to encourage, to stimulate the energies and the will, are among the functions of the physician and are therapeutic measures.
8. Pharmaceutic - the use of pharmaceutic or drug remedies.