Development Credit: Alistair/Incubus
The Basics of Medicine
Medicine is a science as old as civilization, though with many different variations across time, technological development and cultures. This skill - as known by doctors across Idalos - is one that encompasses the fundamentals of contemporary medicine, weaving examination, diagnosis, treatment, recognition and prevention of disease and knowledge of medicinal reagents into a complex weave of practices. It is impossible to call yourself a true master of medicine without gaining knowledge on the variable types of illnesses and afflictions and how to properly deal with them. However, all doctors of great skill know the fundamentals of medicine - as written here - and it is upon these fundamentals that they build and expand into other variations and less staple forms of the art of health.
Doctors and surgeons often work in tandem, and medicines can often benefit the surgical process. Thus, often medics and surgeons both learn some or all of the skillsets of one another to ensure they are at the peak of their professional practice.
Types of Practice
This is the first and most essential goal of an aspiring doctor. In order to properly treat any condition, it must be diagnosed. Doctors learn how to properly diagnose illnesses and diseases early on, though the most complex of afflictions remain obscured from them until the later stages of their development. Diagnosis is, essentially, detecting and categorizing both common and uncommon symptoms, examining the current condition and medical history of the patient, and cross-referencing the information in order to properly determine the illness or affliction from which the patient suffers. It is through accurate diagnosis, and some would say only accurate diagnosis, that the more grievous of health issues may be properly solved.
Treatment is of course the most varied, wide and fundamental aspect of medicine. Once you have discovered what is wrong with the patient, treatment can begin. This can take many forms, and treatment itself has thousands of different practices within this large category. Treatment can be anything from applying medicinal compounds, both preventative and recuperative, to prescribing a certain diet, to massaging a patient with physical ailments, cooling a fevered body with ice or exotic reagents, to sending the patient to professional surgeons for amputation.
There are many different types of doctors that specialize in many different forms of treatment. The most common are pediatric physicians (those who care for children), general physicians, physical therapists and assistant surgeons. All doctors can learn all forms of treatment, but such a task is colossal and has almost never been done. Thus, most specialize in one, two or rarely three forms of treatment and they often refer their patients who require a different form of assistance to someone else.
Prevention is different than treatment and diagnosis in that it aims to treat - or prevent - something that has not yet occurred. Disease prevention is the most common form of prevention, and those concerned about a history of disease in their family, for example, may often seek assistance from a doctor. Prevention can be done in the form of prescribing herbs, teas, medical liquids, powders, and other such things in order to give oneself an inner fortitude to fight oncoming disease. During plagues and other incidents, prevention is often on the forefront of medical sciences.
The Usage of Tools
Tools are often used by doctors to examine individuals and treat them. Most doctors have basic tools such as leather bands to coagulate blood or test blood pressure. Specialized tools for seeing into areas of the body not otherwise accessible to the eye are another common item. There are some tools said to be able to properly measure heart rate, though heart sciences themselves are highly undeveloped at this point and so the average doctor generally only carries with them leather bands, some medicinal drugs and a first aid kit (see the Price List).
A current breakthrough is the experimental new use of sterilized and purified stingers from certain creatures. These stingers are sharp hollow tubes, and they allow the internal "injection" of compounds that would have previously had to be applied by opening the tissue with a knife and smearing it into the wound. Infection has become far less common as a result. Other experimental theories are being put forward every trial, but require long-term professional testing before being put into wide-spread practice.
A newly recognized practice is to learn, in advance, if potential patients all react the same way, and to the same degree, to the medicines that are used in accepted treatments. This is to avoid complications in using a standard treatment on a patient that has shown to have a reaction to it. This can be done with the applications of small amounts to a healthy patient and see if there is a negative reaction. Any anomalies are recorded for future precautionary purposes.
This approach can also be applied to the taking of fluid samples from healthy patients. The look, color, consistency, viscosity and even odor of such fluids will often be recorded for cross-referencing with samples taken later, when the patient is actually stricken by disease or toxin. The aforementioned heart rates are another indicator that is often recorded when healthy. Differences in these aspects have begun to fill a significant portion of the information currently being used to make diagnoses.
A novice doctor has begun to learn the basics of diagnosis and treatment. They are usually able to perform nursing tasks and can assist patients with non-severe conditions. They often prescribe medicine or differing diets to their patients, and very often misjudge diagnoses for their patients. These individuals tend to be assistants rather than actual doctors and surgeons, and a patient left in their care may be better off than otherwise, but not by all that much.
A competent doctor has decent knowledge on general medicine, illnesses, toxins and diseases. It is uncommon for them to make an incorrect diagnosis, if given all of the necessary information, in the case of simple conditions. But their treatments are often imperfect, even with a correct diagnosis, in the case of complex medical issues. A competent medic can often be a successful assistant to a surgeon. They know the basics of cauterizing and disinfecting, but they might not detect the symptoms necessary to diagnose the correct form of treatment or surgery. Thus, complex illnesses such as necrosis (and by extension gangrene) may go unseen by them, or they may prescribe an entirely incorrect treatment. Many patients have died at the hands of a competent doctor who made an incorrect call in the proper treatments. Often, they see later that the records they kept are better off being discarded.
An expert doctor is one that nearly always makes the right call in diagnosis. Their knowledge of symptoms and medicines is extensive and they can spot the beginnings of nearly any disease, affliction or illness. They can properly put together correct treatments for their patients via medical history and even family history, thus they are reliable for the practice of prevention as well as treatment. They nearly always know which medicine to apply to an illness, wound or oncoming disease, and can determine the quantity and dosages necessary. Few patients who go to an expert doctor find themselves anything but better after being given their care. Records kept by these professionals can be trusted to be detailed, accurate and highly informative.
A master doctor will know how to properly deal with nearly any situation. They have seen and studied the worst of toxins, diseases, and even debilitating forms of magic from all across Idalos, and will almost instantly be able to recognize an affliction and prescribe the proper treatment. They know of medicinal reagents and many of their sources, numerous variations of treatments for most every condition, all the signs of negative reactions to standard practices, and detailed knowledge of diseases from all across the world; and can usually perform all aspects of medicine quite well. As someone with complex knowledge on the versatility of practically all known medicines, they can usually help to fight even previously unknown illnesses, and guide a patient back to good health and rehabilitation; even in the case of permanently scarring afflictions. The records kept by these masters are highly sought after by medics around the world.