Bernardino Ramazzini: Father of Occupational Medicine

Bernardino Ramazzini (1633 – 1714) was an Italian physician. He was an early proponent of the use of cinchona bark (from which quinine is derived) in the treatment of Malaria.

His most important contribution to medicine was his book on occupational diseases, De Morbis Artificum Diatriba (Diseases of Workers). This book outlined the health hazards of chemicals, dust, metals, repetitive or violent motions, odd postures, and other disease-causative agents encountered by workers in 52 occupations. This was one of the founding and seminal works of occupational medicine and played a substantial role in its development.

Ramazzini gave in his book De Morbis Artificum Diatriba also one of the earliest descriptions of the consequences of inhalation of vaporized mercury. Studies indicate that members of the dental profession and workers in the furor felt hat-making industry have been at greatest risk for exposure to mercury (Jung & Aaronson).

Ramazzini proposed that physicians should extend the list of questions that Hippocrates recommended they ask their patients by adding, “What is your occupation?”. Bernardino Ramazzini is often called “the father of occupational medicine”. He is recognized as one of the greatest scientific intellects of the seventeenth century.

 

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Hook GER. Ramazzini: Father of Environmental Health? Environmental Health Perspectives 1995; 103 (11): 982-3.

Jung RC, Aaronson J. Death following inhalation of mercury vapor at home. West J Med 1980; 132: 539-543.

Bernardino Ramazzini: Biography from Answers.com

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