Last Updated 21 Dec 2022

The Technology in the Medical Field and the Issues Surrounding Medical Technology

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Introduction

The modern world is shaped to a large extent by technology. Technology, though a product of man tends to develop its own laws and principles, different from those of human nature. Inappropriate use of technology in the medical field, tends to remove the personal humane approach to people needing health care. Worldwide, there is a sudden surge of sophisticated, costly medical technology, both diagnostic and therapeutic. There are acute pressures from different interest groups: the manufacturers and their representatives; the doctor who wants to have the latest technologies and equipment; the public who are made aware of newer additions by mass media. The high pressure adverts make the profession and the public feel that there is need for getting all these investigations done. This essay discusses the current technologies in the medical field and some of the ethical considerations they pose.

Diagnostic Technology

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The development of modern diagnostic techniques is phenomenal. They often supplant rather than supplement, the clinical examination. A carefully taken history and properly conducted physical examination yield good results and are often sufficient. But there is an increasing tendency to carry out expensive, uncomfortable and occasionally hazardous procedures unnecessarily to establish or confirm the diagnosis. Sometimes these newer diagnostic techniques only confuse the issues and lead to wrong decision. There is continuous search for ultimate accuracy in diagnosis. The newer alternatives being offered are most often extremely costly and beyond the reach of the individual, family, community and Government. They consume large proportions of resources. Moreover, many of the doctors qualified abroad and returning home are often dependent on the highly sophisticated equipment to which they were accustomed when they were abroad. They demand such equipment and tests a situation which increases health care spending. In addition, many of the tests, using the sophisticated technologies do not yield conclusive results. One test leads on to another whose test result introduces a doubt that must be resolved by further testing triggering the cascade effect (Sox, 1989).

Curative Technology

Curative technology has also shown changes mainly in the development of newer drugs, sophisticated life support systems and surgical techniques such as open heart surgery and organ transplantation. Such technology might benefit a few for sometime but the cost is so high that such procedures are out of the reach of most people. For example, newer drugs such as antibiotics and anti-hypertensives come up all the time thus pushing the cost of management. The indiscriminate usage of newer antibiotics in preference to others leads to resistance thus newer antibiotics will be needed. Newer surgical techniques are being carried. A major problem with surgical technologies is their unnecessary use. There is an increasing realization that there is need to reduce the large number of surgical interventions such as Caesarian sections, hysterectomies and others (Marden, 2005).

Preventive Technology

These include vaccines (newer ones, improvements in the productions, storage, distribution and administration including the timings and number of times), safety measures in the industry, and prevention of pollution of air and water, use of iodized salts etc. These are welcome technologies that are cost-effective and bring benefits to all. Improvements in water supply and sanitation bring about better health. Unfortunately, not enough attention is paid to them. Even highly cost-effective vaccines are not available to the extent needed (Cohen, Neumann & Weinstein, 2008).

Rehabilitative Technology

There is increasing realization of the need of rehabilitation of the disabled, whatever the

type of disability. These technologies range from the simple aids to the highly sophisticated. Technological advances in rehabilitation can be used in the prevention of disabilities, developing

the inherent capabilities of the disabled and manufacturing and fabrication of aids and appliances.

Conclusion

In conclusion, even though newer technologies have emerged in the medical field in as far as diagnosis, treatment and prevention are concerned, there are a lot of ethical questions that need to be asked with regards to the implementation of these technologies. While this technologies might result to some improvements in health, they are too expensive and most of them result to the cascading effect. Moreover, these equipment are also quite difficult to

maintain.

References

  1. Cohen, J. T., Neumann, P. J., & Weinstein, M. C. (2008). Does preventive care save money?

  2. Health economics and the presidential candidates. New England Journal of Medicine, 358(7), 661-663.

  3. Marden, S. F. (2005). Technology dependence and health-related quality of life: a model. Journal

    of advanced nursing, 50(2), 187-195.

  4. Sox, H. C. (1989). Assessment of diagnostic technology in health care: rationale, methods,

    problems, and directions. National Academies.

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