Timeline of hospitals

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This is a timeline of hospitals, attempting to describe major events in the evolution of the institution.

Year/period Key developments
Ancient times In ancient cultures, religion and medicine are linked. Ancient Egyptian temples are the earliest documented institutions aiming to provide healthcare. In ancient Greece, temples dedicated to the healer-god Asclepius, known as Asclepieia, function as centers of medical advice, prognosis, and healing.[1][2] Around 100 BCE, the Romans construct buildings called valetudinaria for the care of sick slaves, gladiators, and soldiers.[3] Healthcare facilities also appear early in India.
Middle Ages From the 6th to the 10th century, in Europe, the infirmary becomes an established part of every monastery under the influence of the Benedictine Order. Beyond the 10th century, monastic infirmaries continue to expand, and public hospitals are also opened. City authorities, the church and private sources finance these facilities.[4] The primary function of medieval hospitals is to worship to God. Most hospitals contain one chapel, at least one clergyman, and inmates that are expected to help with prayer.[5][6]
Islamic Golden Age Many hospitals were developed during the early Islamic era. The idea of the hospital as a place for the care of sick people is taken from the early Caliphs.[7] Compared to contemporaneous Christian institutions, which were poor and sick relief facilities offered by some monasteries, the Islamic hospital was a more elaborate institution with a wider range of functions. Islamic hospitals tended to be large, urban structures, and were largely secular institutions, many open to all. The Islamic hospital served several purposes, as a center of medical treatment, a home for patients recovering from illness or accidents, an insane asylum, and a retirement home with basic maintenance needs for the aged and infirm.[8]
18th century The voluntary hospital movement begins in some parts of Europe.[9] The earliest contemporary hospitals begin to appear in China in the form of missionary hospitals run by western churches.[10]
19th century Hospitals and the medical profession become more professionalized, with a reorganization of hospital management along more bureaucratic and administrative lines. By the end of the century, the modern hospital begins to take shape with a proliferation of a variety of public and private hospital systems.[11]
20th century Middle-class patients enter the hospitals. Outpatient departments expand. Technological transformation of hospitals accelerate.[12]
1950s The role of hospitals evolves to centered health systems. Large hospitals start to be built.[12] Computer technology in medicine begins with the rise of the computers.[13]
1970s District general hospitals rise as local, secondary and tertiary hospitals.[12]
1980s Magnetic resonance imaging is introduced.
1990s Acute care hospitals (active short-stay care) and ambulatory surgery centers (expansion of both day admissions and minimally invasive surgery) consolidate.[12]
2000s Computing is generalized in hospitals. Robotics start to develop. Modern private hospitals begin to appear in some developing countries.[14]

Full timeline[edit]

Year/period Type of event Event Location
437 BC – 367 BC Organization King Pandukabhaya of Sri Lanka has lying-in-homes and Ayurvedic hospitals (Sivikasotthi-Sala) built in various parts of the country. This is the earliest documented evidence available of institutions dedicated specifically to the care of the sick anywhere in the world.[15][16] Sri Lanka
100 BC Organization The Romans establish hospitals (valetudinaria) for the treatment of their sick and injured soldiers, gladiators and chariotors. The care of their military is important because the power of ancient Rome is based upon the integrity of the legions.[14] Roman Empire
Late 4th century Organization Basil of Caesarea founds the first Christian hospital[17] Rome
397 Organization Fabiola founds the first Christian hospital in Latin Christendom.[18] Rome
500 Organization The Academy of Gundishapur is founded. It is considered to be the first teaching hospital on record, where students are authorized to methodically practice on patients under the supervision of physicians as part of their education.[19] Persia (Iran)
800 Organization The first prominent Islamic hospital is founded with assistance from Christians.[20][21] Baghdad, Iraq
872 Organization Egyptian governor Ahmad ibn Tulun builds a hospital in that provides care to the insane, which includes music therapy.[22][23] Cairo
1065 Development The first hospices are believed to have originated around this time. In this movement is where palliative care begins.[24][25] Europe
1080 Organization Hospital of St. John is founded by a group of monks.[26] Jerusalem
1123 Organisation St Bartholomew's Hospital founded by Rahere. Still an active hospital to this day.[27] London
1377 Organization Bedlam is founded as an asylum for lunatics.[28] London
1423 Organization The first permanent pest house in Europe is founded.[29] Venice, Italy
1487 Development Ambulances are first used for emergency transport.[30] Spain
1519 Organization Hospital San Nicolás de Bari is the first hospital founded in the Americas, under Spanish rule.[31] Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
1524 Organization The first hospital in North America is built by Hernán Cortés.[14] Mexico City, Mexico
1633 Organization Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul is founded as a society of young women who share their dedication of helping the poor and the sick.[32] France
1664 Organization The Madras General Hospital is the first western hospital opened in India. It is originally aimed at serving sick soldiers of the British East India Company.[33] India
1718 Organization Huguenots of France establish a hospital in England.[14] United Kingdom
1726 Organization University of Edinburgh Medical School is established.[34] Edinburgh, Scotland
1794 Organization The Glasgow Royal Infirmary is founded. It is the first hospital to have systematic training courses for nurses and the first hospital known to have an X-ray unit.[35] Glasgow, Scotland
1804 Organization Moorfields Eye Hospital is founded. It is the first center in the world for ophthalmic treatment.[36] London, United Kingdom
1815 Policy Apothecaries Act 1815 is passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The Act introduces compulsory apprenticeship and formal qualifications for apothecaries, in modern terms general practitioners, under the license of the Society of Apothecaries. It is the beginning of regulation of the medical profession in Great Britain. The Act requires instruction in anatomy, botany, chemistry, materia medica and "physic", in addition to six months of practical hospital experience.[37] United Kingdom
1833 Organization First homeopathic hospital opens.[38] Leipzig, Germany
1847 Policy Hungarian obstetrician Ignaz Semmelweis working at a Vienna maternity hospital, institutes mandatory hand-washing after hypothesizing that medical students were infecting patients. After the new procedure, infection rates drop dramatically.[39] Vienna, Austria
1851 Organization The largest lunatic asylum in Europe is founded.[40] London, England
1851 Organization The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust is founded. It is the first hospital in the world dedicated to the study and treatment of cancer.[41] London, United Kingdom
1853–1856 Organization The first hospital train is built during the Crimean War.[42]
1859 Organization First cottage hospital (a small rural building having several beds) is founded.[43] Surrey, England
1859 Organization The National Hospital for the Paralyzed and Epileptic (today National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery) is founded. It is the first hospital in the world specializing in outpatient epilepsy care.[44] London, United Kingdom
1867 Organization The first outpatient clinic is established at the Philadelphia Hospital, for orthopedics.[45] United States
1883–1911 Policy The first healthcare system of modern history launches, starting with policies of the introduced Otto von Bismarck's social legislation.[46] Germany
1889 Organization Johns Hopkins Hospital is founded. Major accomplishments here include the development of HeLa, by George Otto Gey, head of tissue culture research in 1951;[47] the first and arguably most important line of human cells grown in culture; the identification of the three types of polio virus; and the first "blue baby" operation.[48] Baltimore, Maryland, United States
1890 Development American surgeon William Stewart Halsted introduces the use of surgical gloves to the practice of medicine.[49]
1895 Development The first surgery on the heart itself is performed at Rikshospitalet.[50] Oslo, Norway
1899 Technology launch The first motor powered (electric) ambulance enters service in Chicago, Illinois at the Michael Reese Hospital.[30] United States
1909 Development Pediatric ambulatory anesthesia is first reported.[51]
1911 Organization The first specialized trauma care center in the world is opened at the University of Louisville Hospital.[52] Louisville, Kentucky, United States
1922 Development Hospitals start to group newborn infants into one specific area, today called neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).[53]
1940 Development First use of the wonder drug Penicillin on a large scale takes place at RAF Hospital Halton.[54] United Kingdom
1948 Policy Park Hospital (now Trafford General Hospital) becomes the first hospital in the world to offer free healthcare to all.[55] Trafford, United Kingdom
1949 Organization The first hospital of traditional Chinese medicine is established.[56] Baoding, China
1950 Development Austrian anesthesiologist Peter Safar establishes the concept of "Advanced Support of Life", keeping patients sedated and ventilated in an intensive care environment. Safar is considered to be the first practitioner of intensive care medicine as a specialty, having started the first multidisciplinary critical care medicine fellowship program in the world.[57]
1952 Development Ambulances begin to be restructured to become mobile hospitals rather than just vehicles for transporting patients.[30]
1960–1964 Technology launch Continuous cardiac monitoring (CCM) is first introduced in hospitals for heart rate and rhythm monitoring in coronary intensive care units.[58]
1966 Development Provision of pre-hospital cardiac care by physicians is launched as an experiment for improving care.[59] Belfast, Northern Ireland
1966 Technology launch Duke University Hospital, under program Med-Aid (short for Medical Assistance for Isolated Doctors), becomes the first medical center in the world to offer radio consultation with physicians in developing countries.[60] Durham, North Carolina, United States
1968 Technology launch The first hospital information system is developed.[61] United States
1968 Organization The first Traditional Tibetan medicine hospital in Bhutan is established.[62] Thimphu, Bhutan
1988 Technology launch Routine newborn hearing screening with otoacoustic emission (OAE) is first introduced, at Whipps Cross University Hospital.[63] London, United Kingdom
1996 Organization Fortis Memorial Research Institute is founded. It is the first hospital in the world to offer digital broadband MRI imaging.[64] New Delhi, India
1999 Technology launch eHealth, a relatively recent term for healthcare practice supported by electronic processes and communication, starts to develop.[65]
2000 Organization The first Ayurvedic hospital outside India is founded.[66] London, United Kingdom
2001 Technology launch Lindbergh operation, the first complete tele-surgical operation, is carried out by a team of surgeons located in New York City on a patient at Strasbourg Civil Hospital.[67] United States, France
2003 Technology launch University of Maryland Medical Center first employs robots to deliver medications from the satellite pharmacies to the patient care units.[68] Baltimore, Maryland, United States
2010 Technology launch Canopy is launched as a language translation software used primarily by hospitals and clinics to communicate with limited English proficiency people (LEP's) or non-English speaking patients. The project is funded by the National Institutes of Health.[69]
2012 Technology launch Palomar Medical Center is founded. It is the first hospital to use wireless wrist band, a device is capable of transmitting vital signs from the patient into the hospital system.[70] Escondido, California, United States
2015 Technology launch Kuopio University Hospital introduces Ascom Myco, a smartphone specially designed for mission-critical communications in hospitals and healthcare environments.[71] Kuopio, Finland

Further reading[edit]

  • Risse, Guenter B. Mending bodies, saving souls: A history of hospitals. Oxford University Press, 1999.

See also[edit]


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