Medicine on Trial: Regulating the Health Professions in Later Medieval England

Sara M. Butler

Abstract


Fears of being accused of malpractice have plagued the field of medicine since its inception. Despite the longevity of the concerns, English law was slow to catch up and only did so eventually because of the pressure exerted from below by users of medicine rather than the practitioners themselves. Much of the hostility between medical practitioners and their dissatisfied patients is reflected in disputes over payment in an economy that functioned exclusively on supply and demand: patients refused to pay for anything less than a cure, and they withheld fees when they believed that the quality of the service was less than exemplary.

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