A host of medical personnel interact with injured workers in the workers' compensation system. These can include physicians, chiropractors, occupational and physical therapists, nurses, and others. Another complex system is that of medical providers, a system that has also evolved over the past century and is often somewhat at odds with the workers' compensation system. This chapter will outline the history of medicine in the United States and will discuss workers' compensation from a medical point of view.
Modern medicine in the United States established its roots very early. A physician, Samuel Fuller, made the historic Mayflower voyage and landed at Plymouth, Massachusetts. The first hospital in this country was founded in Philadelphia as early as 1756. Anesthesia was first used in 1842. In the 1870s nursing schools were founded, based on Florence Nightingale's principles.
While its roots in the United States were established with the pilgrims, modern medicine has little else in common with medicine in the early days. Even as late as the early 1900s, hospitals were primarily places where the poor and indigent went to die. Physicians generally did not go near them ( Jonas, 1981).