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name for an institution providing medical diagnosis and treatment for ambulatory patients. The forerunner of the modern clinic was the dispensary, which dispensed free drugs and served only those who could not afford to pay a fee.
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a medical-preventive institution that identifies patients in the early stages of diseases by means of systematically organized far-reaching preventive and special medical examinations, registers those requiring treatment, and provides careful examination and qualified and specialized medical care, as well as regular observation for those registered. Dispensaries also study the working and living conditions of patients and, together with the sanitary-epidemiological stations, eliminate factors that have a harmful effect on the health of those cared for under the dispensary program and of persons close to them, including members of their families and persons living and working with them. In the USSR there are tuberculosis, dermatovene-real, oncological, psychoneurological, trachoma, goiter, and medical-physical-culture dispensaries serving the population on the district principle. Included in the dispensary are specialized medical-preventive facilities (sometimes hospitals), laboratories, and organizational-methodological sections (offices); some dispensaries have established day and night sanatoriums, medical-labor workshops, dietary eating facilities, and so forth.
In socialist countries the structure, tasks, forms, and methods of dispensaries are analogous to those in the USSR. In capitalist countries (dispensaries originated in England in the 18th century) dispensaries are not government institutions but are created on the initiative of private individuals and organizations—philanthropists, leagues for the control of diseases, insurance companies, religious associations, and public organizations. They are called by different names— consultation services, health centers, and so forth. Their activity is limited to consultation (advice), diagnosis, health-educational work, and certain measures of personal prophylaxis.
REFERENCESOrganizatsiia zdravookhraneniia v SSSR. Edited by N. A. Vinogradov. Moscow, 1962.
Petrovskii, B. V. 50 let sovetskogo zdravookhraneniia. Moscow, 1967.
G. N. SOBOLEVSKII