New Online Exhibit: “Physician Price Fixing in 19th Century Virginia”
A New Online Exhibit presented by Historical Collections, Claude Moore Health Sciences Library, University of Virginia
What would you pay for a house visit from a doctor whose office was within a mile of where you lived? How about a dollar with one prescription thrown in for good measure? Or maybe you need your tonsils out. Fifteen dollars will do it. Have a broken arm? Ten dollars will take care of setting it, unless it is a compound fracture and then it would be twice as much. A dollar will cover the extraction of a tooth.
Where are these prices being offered and who are the practitioners? The place is Charlottesville, Virginia, and the twelve doctors making such offers are some of the most respected men in town and include faculty members of the School of Medicine at the University of Virginia. Actually, all the teachers in the School of Medicine, a grand total of four, have agreed to these medical charges because the year is 1848.
What can we learn about medical practice in the mid-nineteenth century by examining the document, generally called a fee bill, which is the inspiration for this exhibit? What was like to live in central Virginia in this time period and who were the men who signed the bill?
Visit the newest web exhibit (http://blog.hsl.virginia.edu/feebill/) from the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library Historical Collections and find out. The exhibit features an essay on physician fee bills by Todd L. Savitt, Ph.D.