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Kawthar
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PostSubject: HOSPITALS   Sun May 04, 2008 10:54 am

HOSPITALS
The development of efficient hospitals was an outstanding contribution of Islamic medicine (7). Hospitals served all citizens free without any regard to their color, religion, sex, age or social status. The hospitals were run by government and the directors of hospitals were physicians.

Hospitals had separate wards for male patients and female patients. Each ward was furnished with a nursing staff and porters of the sex of the patients to be treated therein. Different diseases such as fever, wounds, infections, mania, eye conditions, cold diseases, diarrhea, and female disorders were allocated different wards. Convalescents had separate sections within them. Hospitals provided patients with unlimited water supply and with bathing facilities. Only qualified and licensed physicians were allowed by law to practice medicine. The hospitals were teaching hospitals educating medical students. They had housing for students and house-staff. They contained pharmacies dispensing free drugs to patients. Hospitals had their own conference room and expensive libraries containing the most up-to-date books. According to Haddad, the library of the Tulum Hospital which was founded in Cairo in 872 A.D. (I 100 years ago) had 100,000 books. Universities, cities and hospitals acquired large libraries (Mustansiriyya University in Baghdad contained 80,000 volumes; the library of Cordova 600,000 volumes; that of Cairo 2,000,000 and that of Tripoli 3,000,000 books), physicians had their own extensive personal book collections, at a time when printing was unknown and book editing was done by skilled and specialized scribes putting in long hours of manual labour.

For the first time in history, these hospitals kept records of patients and their medical care.

From the point of view of treatment the hospital was divided into an out- patient department and an inpatient department. The system of the in-patient department differed only slightly from that of today. At Tulun hospital, on admission the patients were given special apparel while their clothes, money, and valuables were stored until the time of their discharge. On discharge, each patient - received five gold pieces to support himself until he could return to work.

The hospital and medical school at Damascus had elegant rooms and an extensive library. Healthy people are said to have feigned illness in order to enjoy its cuisine. There was a separate hospital in Damascus for lepers, while, in Europe, even six centuries later, condemned lepers were burned to death by royal decree.

The Qayrawan Hospital (built in 830 A.D. in Tunisia) was characterized by spacious separate wards, waiting rooms for visitors and patients, and female nurses from Sudan, an event representing the first use of nursing in Arabic history. The hospital also provided facilities for performing prayers.

The Al-Adudi hospital (built in 981 A.D. in Baghdad) was furnished with die best equipment and supplies known at the time. It had interns, residents, and 24 consultants attending its professional activities, An Abbasid minister, Ali ibn Isa, requested the court physician, Sinan ibn Thabit, to organize regular visiting of prisons by medical officers (14). At a time when paris and London were places of mud streets and hovels, Baghdad, Cairo, and Cordova had hospitals which incorporated innovations which sound amazingly modern. It was chiefly in the humaneness of patient care, however, that the hospitals of Islam excelled. Near the wards of those afflicted with fever, fountains cooled the air; the insane were treated with gentleness; and at night music and storytelling soothed the patients.

The Bimaristans (hospitals) were of two types - the fixed and the mobile. The mobile hospitals were transported upon beasts of burden and were erected from time to time as required. The physicians in the mobile clinics were of the same standing as those who served the fixed hospitals. Similar moving hospitals accompanied the armies in the field. The field hospitals were well equipped with medicaments, instruments, tents and a staff of doctors, nurses, and orderlies. The traveling clinics served the totally disabled, the disadvantaged and those in remote areas. These hospitals were also used by prisoners, and by the general public, particularly in times of epidemics.

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