History of Healthcare


Primitive Times

4000 BC - 3000 BC

Illness and disease was a punishment from God. Tribal witch doctors treated illness with ceremonies. Plants and herbs were used as medicine (morphine). Trepanation or trephing: surgical removal of pieces of bone from the skull. Average lifespan = 20 years.

Ancient Egyptians

3000 BC - 300 BC

Physicians were priests. Bloodletting and leeches were used as medical treatment. Average lifespan = 20 to 30 years.

Ancient Chinese

1700 BC - 220 AD

They believed in the need to treat the whole body by curing the spirit and nourishing the body. They used therapies such as acupuncture. Average lifespan = 20 to 30 years.

Ancient Greeks

1200 BC - 200 BC

First to observe the human body and the effects of disease. This led to modern medical sciences. Used therapies such as massage, art therapy, and herbal treatments. They stressed diet and exercise as a way to prevent disease. Average lifespan = 25 to 35 years.

Ancient Romans

753 BC - 410 AD

First to organize medical care by providing care to wounded soldiers. First public health and sanitation systems by building sewers and aquaducts. Average lifespan = 25 to 35 years.

Dark Ages

400 AD - 800 AD

Emphasis on saving the soul. Studying medicine was prohibited. Monks and priests provided custodial care for ill people. Average lifespan = 20 to 30 years.

Middle Ages

800 AD - 1400 AD

Renewed interest in medical practices of Greeks and Romans. Bubonic plague killed 75% of the population in Europe and Asia. Major diseases included smallpox, diptheria, typhoid, tuberculosis, malaria, and the plague. Average lifespan = 20 to 35 years.


1350 AD - 1650 AD

Dissection of body led to increased understanding of anatomy and physiology. First anatomy book published by Andreas Vesalius (1514 to 1564) . Average lifespan = 30 to 40 years.

16th and 17th Centuries

1500 AD - 1600 AD

Invention of microscope = disease causing organisms were discovered. Apothecaries (early pharmacists) made, prescribed, and sold medications. Average lifespan = 35 to 45 years.

18th Century

1700 AD - 1800 AD

Gabriel Fahrenheit invented the first mercury thermometer. Benjamin Franklin invented bifocals. Average lifespan = 40 to 50 years.

19th Century

1800 AD - 1900 AD

Infection control = microorganisms were associated with disease. Formal training for nurses began. Average lifespan = 40 to 60 years.

20th Century

1900 AD - 2000 AD

New medications and machines were developed. Organ transplants. Hospice was organized. Birth control was approved by the FDA in 1960. Test tube baby in 1978. AIDS were identified in 1981. HIV causing AIDS were identified in 1984.