Strange medical tales

Michael ODonnellIndependent Practitioner Today presents a new series by TV doctor and full-time writer Dr Michael O’Donnell (right), drawn from his new book Medicine’s Strangest Cases.

THE BIRTH OF PROFESSIONAL FEEMANSHIP, LYONS, FRANCE, 1533

What little we know of the lives of doctors who practised in ill-documented times is often an indistinguishable mix of fact and legend. There seems, however, to be general accord that one such doctor introduced the concept of the professional fee.

Strange Cases bookThe occasion was provided in October 1533 by Jean du Bellay, Bishop of Paris, when he was on his way to Rome to receive his cardinal’s hat. By the time he reached Lyons, he was so afflicted by pain in his back and hips that he had to be carried from his coach to a local inn.

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