Practitioner 2008;252(1710):5

The Practitioner 1868-2008: supporting GPs for 140 years

10 Sep 2008


The Practitioner 1868-2008: supporting GPs for 140 years Timeline

A hundred and forty years later we are still striving to meet the needs of busy GPs by providing in-depth but concise practical articles


When the first editors of The Practitioner, Francis Anstie and Henry Lawson, launched the journal in 1868 they wrote 'The Practitioner will appear monthly, and will thus supply the most recent information obtainable on all subjects connected with the application of remedies for disease; and as its bulk of matter will not be great, it is hoped that busy men will be able to master its contents without difficulty.

'The editors have been fortunate enough to obtain promises of assistance from some of the most eminent members of the profession; and they will be able to lay before their readers original articles embodying the views of men whose experience in the subjects of which they will write is very great, and in some cases altogether unique.'

A hundred and forty years later we are still striving to meet the changing needs of busy GPs by providing in-depth but concise practical articles on evidence-based management of diseases. These features are written by specialists and reviewed by GPs to ensure that they are relevant to day-to-day practice. In the clinical review section, our panel of GPs evaluate recent research papers in their specialist areas that may influence the way you practise.

In this issue, we have included extracts from 1868 to remind readers how much - or how little - medicine has changed over the past 140 years.

In clinic of the month, the forerunner of our clinical review section, Dr Edward Mackey recommends digitalis for the weak and feeble heart. 'He would not give it in fatty degeneration, or in aortic regurgitation, but he thinks it useful in mitral regurgitation, mitral obstruction and aortic obstruction.' While Dr W.C.Maclean, 'than whom there is no higher authority on sunstroke', recommends shaving the head and blistering if stripping the patient, dousing him with cold water and administering ammonia and a purgative fails to cure sunstroke.

In the Notes and Queries section, Dr J. Curran Waring tells us he has found cannabis an invaluable remedy for senile catarrh and adds 'that as an anodyne it is immensely superior to every other drug. Its effects, he says, must be seen to be thoroughly realized.' Dr J. Owen Evans writes of his personal experience of psoriasis and its treatment. He swears by an animal diet for 'the happiest results' but 'places most reliance on arsenic'. 'As however, he has never tried the animal diet unaccompanied by arsenic, he is unable to express a definitive opinion.'

In On Inhalation in Diseases of the Throat, Dr Hermann Beigel recommends inhalation therapy for croup 'for two reasons: firstly because some children who refuse medicine, look at the atomiser as a kind of toy, and willingly submit to its action; secondly because there is no difficulty, in case of need, in forcing a child to expose his pharynx and larynx to the action of the remedy, as the very act of screaming is very favourable to the entrance of the spray into the air-passages.'

- Corinne Short, Editor