In medieval times, many people believed that pain was a necessary component of a good death. Indeed, the very word 'patient' comes from the Latin word patientia, meaning 'patience', 'endurance' and 'submission'. A patient patiently awaited his or her death.
For this reason, the physician rarely appeared at the bedside of a dying person because pain management wasn’t required. Moreover, the general consensus was that it was inappropriate for a person to profit from another one’s death.
In Victorian times, pain management became finally available for most patients, but the cure was often far worse than the disease. Operations would still take place without proper anaesthetic, the patient often sedated only with copious amounts of alcohol. Surgeons prided themselves on how quickly they performed complex procedures. Opium, usually in the form of liquid laudanum, was prescribed for numerous complaints from insomnia to toothache. Overdose or addiction were common.
Rather than being places of hope and cure, hospitals were once dark, forbidding places.