Views & Reviews Medical classics

Geriatrics: The Diseases of Old Age and Their Treatment

BMJ 2007; 334 doi: (Published 07 June 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:1225
  1. A Mark Clarfield, head of geriatrics
  1. Soroka Hospital, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel
  1. markclar{at}

    Geriatrics has a long and fascinating history, going back to the epic of Gilgamesh, through the Jewish Bible and up to the 19th century studies of Jean-Marie Charcot. However, many believe that the field entered the modern era with the publication in 1914 of Ignatz Leo Nascher's seminal text. The book's origins are interesting in that it began with a ward round. As a medical student in New York, Nascher was part of a team that came to an acutely ill woman, whose condition Nascher's professor described in words that can still be heard today: “Old age.” When our young hero asked what could be done to help the patient, he was shocked by his teacher's response: “Nothing!”

    Several years later Nascher wrote his definitive text, in which he first formulated the clumsy term …

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