Overview of Medicine’s Origins, Social Impacts, Ethics and Trends
The significance of the potential constructive and destructive fiscal effects of medical development is an ongoing subject that affects medicine in our time, and is also considered in this research Overview of Medicine Origins of Medicine From the dawn of civilization every human culture has had medical beliefs in order to provide explanations to events such as illness, the miracle of birth, and the inevitable arrival of death.
Since the dawn of time, the cause of many medical conditions were attributed to a more primal set of beliefs such as witchcraft, planetary influence, demonic possession, and the simple bestowment of divine will on a misfortunate individual. Some of these faiths and positions are still active and remain in practice in some places around the globe, but the development of medical technology alongside scientific knowledge has reformed and taken over mysticism in most geographical areas and society.
The earliest historical traces of medical science lead us to ancient civilizations such as the Egyptians, the Ancient Greeks, the Romans, and the Mesopotamians to mention a few. The most prominent and easily overlooked of these examples are the Ancient Egyptians; due to the hot and dry climate in the arid regions of Egypt, a great deal of ancient papyri have survived the relentless test of time. The preservation of these precious artifacts have enabled historians and scientists to gain a significant amount of knowledge about their attitude towards medicine and their medical research.
The Edwin Smith Papyrus, believed to be dated as early as 3000 BC, details various treatments and technologies used at that time to perform surgical procedures. The papyrus reveals that Egyptians had knowledge of the beneficial antibiotic properties of certain foods, and therefore implemented a diet rich in radish, garlic, and onion, which modern scientists have found to contain a rich amount of beneficial substances including Raphanin, Allicin, and Allistatin.
It is now known that the consumption of these foodstuffs was extremely helpful and beneficial to the control and prevention of disease outbreaks in their population—especially in the crowded conditions at the work camps—allowing the Egyptians to maintain a healthy labor force essential to the construction of their marvelous structural masterpieces. Later, the Ebers Papyrus listed as many as 21 different treatments for cough, and also described in detail some external operations performed by the Egyptians.
Although it is known that the Egyptians didn’t open the stomach while performing surgery, they were successful in removing cysts, as well as dealing with wounds and fractures with a degree of knowledge that was centuries ahead of their time. Evidence strongly indicates that Egyptians were also adept in eye surgery, since foreign objects inadvertently being blown into the eyes and causing inflammation were, and to this day, are still quite a common occurrence in the dessert.
Other achievements like the cure for night blindness were achieved by feeding the patient powdered liver, a substance highly rich in ? -carotene, now commonly known to help the prevention of sight degeneration. Another major technological contribution of the Egyptians to the field of medicine was the standardization and development of surgical instruments. Historical evidence suggests that the Egyptians utilized scalpels, knives, forceps, and probes as well as red-hot irons to cauterized wounds.
Archaeological evidence in the form of mummified bodies reveal a level of surgical precision and accuracy unimaginable without the aid of such instruments; the preserved mummies also offered today’s scientists a window to the origin and development of medicine in its early stages by showing direct evidence of ailments and the treatments in practice at that time. Perhaps as a direct result of their advanced surgical tools, the Egyptians also possessed a great deal of knowledge pertaining to healing herbs, the human anatomy, and repairing physical injuries.
The Greek historian Herodotus described Egypt as “a country filled with doctors” and the Egyptians, “the healthiest to all men, next to the Libyans. ” Furthermore, Herodotus claimed that the practice of medicine was so specialized in Egypt, that a given healer or physician specialized in only one disease and nothing more. These contemporary findings have shown that Egyptians had identified and suffered from diseases to the eye, rheumatoid arthritis, bladder, kidney and gall stones, bilharzias, arterial disease, gout, and appendicitis.
Development and advances in medical technology continued after the ancient Egyptians to some degree, but without much significance during the time of the Roman Empire. The Middle Ages, however, saw the rise of public distribution of medicine, which appeared in the form of the world’s first drug stores in Baghdad thanks to Islamic advances in pharmaceutical knowledge. Also of note during this period, is the first recorded description of the pulmonary and coronary circulation systems given by Lbn al-Nafis in 1242.
Careful description of skin conditions, sexually transmitted diseases, and the first recorded instances of animal testing can also be attributed this period. Lbn al-Nafis’ expeditionary work would later be completed by William Harvey during the early Renaissance Period, who compiled the refined and complete descriptions of the circulatory system we use today in modern medicine. Modern medical technology as we know it today was ultimately materialized during the 19th century through the consolidation of medical knowledge, which allowed physicians to engage in a more systematic analysis of symptoms in the diagnosis of patients.
Many of the greatest discoveries and technical advances in medicine were accomplished during this century. Among the most significant of these new breakthroughs were the development of anesthesia, and the widespread use of aseptic and antiseptic techniques in operating theaters. The field of microbiology was first established in 1676, shortly after the invention of the microscope by Antonie van Leeuwenhoek. With the advent of the microscope, Louis Pasteur and Claude Bernard were able to discover a correlation between microorganisms and disease in the 19th century, giving birth to the practice of pasteurization which is still in use today.
Pasteur’s groundwork later enabled Koch to link two of the deadliest killers of the industrial age, the tuberculosis and cholera, to the tubercle bacillus and the cholera bacillus, respectively. The historical events of the American civil war, WW I, and WW II were without a doubt factors that contributed to the rapid advancement in medical technology due to the immense number of casualties as a result of the battles during these conflicts. The introduction of antibiotics and the standardization of vaccines in preventing and eradicating disease was a part of the shift witnessed in the 20th century.
The development of international efforts such as the Human Genome Project and the introduction of new types of reconstructive plastic surgery were some of the great accomplishments along with revolutions in cardiovascular medicine in the late 1940’s as a due to progress in the field of open heart surgery. Further milestones, in the form of replacing entire human organs through transplantation such as those of the kidneys, liver, and pancreas, were also introduced in the 20th century; advances in the fields of robotics and fiber optics have opened doors to the possibility of minimally invasive practices in the field of microsurgery.
These stepping stones are just some of the facts proving how fast advances in medical science is allowing medicine to not only extend the human lifespan, but also better the quality of human life. The continuous endeavor to reach a better understanding and the incessant quest for new technologies is what has allowed mankind to reap the benefits of the modern life style that we enjoy today. Benefits and Disadvantages of Medicine The technological advances made in the field of medicine bring not only convenience, but also efficiency to both doctors and patients.
Nonetheless, there are a few drawbacks regarding the benefits of medicine. The medical field is responsible for a great number of improvements in human life since it allows humans to prolong life expectancy around the world, while offering a much higher quality of life as a result of extending good health as we age. The aforementioned convenience is one the biggest advantages of today’s medical technology because it allows for improved communication and sharing of information between doctor and patient, and also between departments that are vital for treatment in an emergency situation.
The very complex technologies and the sophisticated systems aiding medicine can also become a disadvantage sometimes due to their very own complex nature. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) indicates that 9% of medical device failures are directly linked to usage errors; usage errors currently account for as much as 90% of fatalities and injuries in the medical branch of anesthesiology. Some of the main causes of the mistakes previously indicated are poorly designed equipment, unclearly written and disregarded warning labels, and the lack of proper instructions and training (or lack thereof,) provided to technicians.
Whereas some of the drugs intended as medication do have the ability to prolong life when applied toward a chronic condition, such as diabetes, AIDS, hypertension, etc. others such morphine, ex-lax®, marijuana may have significant side effects such as hives, depression, liver failure, and substance addiction. Impact of Medicine in Society Current or Potential Ethical Considerations in Medicine Since the introduction of medical science and the exercise of medical practice from its very early stages, the medical field has always faced many ethical dilemmas regarding human life.
These instances of solomonic decision-making, where the argument of human life lies solitarily in the hands of the physician, are as old as medicine itself. Although the professional capacities and the kind wisdom of healers have been widely trusted throughout time when confronting life-death assessments, a more standardized way to manage these dilemmas have come to be necessary, and that is how the set of doctrines known as medical ethics started taking shape. The discipline of medical ethics can be described as the system of moral principles that apply values and judgments to the practice of medicine.
Some ethical guiding principles can be dated centuries back in time, such as the Hippocratic Oath that is believed to have been written by Hippocrates, often regarded as the father of western medicine. The Hippocratic Oath is one of the most widely known of Greek medical texts, and requires the physician to swear upon a diverse number of healing gods to uphold various professional ethical standards. Even with all these diverse ideologies of morality and medical professionalism in our contemporary society, the medical field has to collide with many ethical challenges and considerations.
Ethical considerations in modern medicine are more diverse and more specific to particular cases now than at any previous time in history. Some of these ongoing ethical considerations are observable in cases such as human cloning, euthanasia, organ transplant, and assisted suicide, just to mention a few. Medicine today has given rise to unique situations and predicaments that no one would have ever expected previously, simply because of all the radical advances in modern medicine.
Far before scientists acquired the technological capability to clone a human being, Scottish researchers, in 1997, announced the successful cloning of the famous “Dolly the Sheep” and another lab soon followed suit by publicizing that they had successfully cloned mice. However, Richard Seed, a retired physicist made his intentions known to set up a clinic to clone humans giving people the resources to not only clone themselves, but to also clone people that may have been recently deceased.
It is abundantly clear that the ethical connotations of this scenario are worth reflecting upon, much like in 1978 setting when the birth of Louis Brown, the first in vitro test-tube baby shocked the nation. Many doctors, ethicists, and religious figures have now come to question whether it is morally acceptable for medical science to be assisting the creation of life at human will. Another example of a miraculous medical breakthrough that has passed through severe ethical considerations before being accepted as common practice, is the topic of organ transplant.
The narrative of the organ transplantation plainly demonstrates how rapidly medical practices can go from theory to reality. The idea of a surgeon taking organs from one body—either a corpse or a living donor—and transplanting them into a different person once struck many people as absurd, even repugnant. However, in a very short amount of time, many people have come to view organ transplants as a marvelous medical procedure that has saved thousands of human lives rather than as something xtracted from a horror novella. Nonetheless, the ordeals surrounding human organ transplants have certainly not been fully resolved. In 1990, human rights advocates were repelled to find out that the Chinese government had legalized the harvesting of organs from the bodies of executed prisoners. Even though organ transplants have saved several lives, they have raised moral questions about the use of the dead in order to assist in saving the living.
The ethical considerations that medicine must take into account nowadays as an ironic consequence of advances in medicine are relentlessly narrowing the scope of what medicine can accomplish, and the perpetual dilemma of medical ethics dictating what medicine should or should not accomplish still remains today as it did from the day of its conception. At the end of all the moral doubts and travails, we can all only wonder if medical ethics will keep up with the rapid pace of medical development in a future where only our imagination seems to draw the line of limitations to our never ending expedition for new medical innovations.
The Positive and Negative Economic Effects of Medicine The incredibly fast-paced, growing society we live in today offers countless benefits to our comfortable way of life. We owe our ability to enjoy all the magnificent industrial and scientific progress we enjoy in the present day, however, to megacorporations that are persistently battling each other to enhance and expand existing technologies with the purpose of not only better our quality of life in the process, but also generating profit from the social order.
Medical science has become one the fastest growing, most profitable industries in the financial market in this day and age. Medicine has, within a time span of a few centuries, converted itself from a noble and altruistic practice into a large conglomerate of giant pharmaceutical and biotechnological corporations that maintain their existence solely by struggling with each other to find ways of monopolizing the industry in order to maximize their financial gains and profits.
The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) commissioned a study in order to find out how much research conducted at the nation’s medical schools and teaching hospitals contribute to the U. S. economy (AAMC, March 2012). The study found that in 2009, federal and state funded research in medical schools and teaching hospitals added close to 4. 5 billion dollars to the U. S. economy overall. Researchers also found that medical research supports nearly 300,000 jobs—or 1 in 500 citizens—in the United States (Collins, 2011).
Moreover, the figures from the study show that every dollar invested in medical research at medical schools and teaching hospitals result in $2. 60 of economic activity. The study measured and defined “economic impact” to include both the direct and indirect business volume generated by an institution from public state and federal research funding (AAMC, March 2012). Researchers also noted that a large part of state research funds were allocated to specific areas, such as cancer and stem cell research programs.
Other areas of eminent local economic impact were cited, such as the extensive contributions of physicians and scientist that engage in home buying, grocery shopping, and restaurant dining in local establishments. Although substantiating amounts of evidence have been collected in varying studies conducted by different institutions, the economical impact of medicine appear to be staggering in the context of the monumental sums of revenue involved in medical research.
We must not dismiss the fact that the colossal industrialization of medicine has saved many lives and improved the quality of life of an incalculable number of people, and we the society, regardless of the time we live in, must always keep in mind and heart that the goal of medical research will forever be to offer hope to patients and improve the health for all men regardless of creed, social status, race, or particular views in life. Perspectives and Opinions of Medicine Political Implications and Influences of medicine in Modern Society
Since the introduction of modern medical science, the very existence of medical development has been inextricably intertwined with the diverse world of politics. Politics have an undeniable effect on medicine and life expectancy; famine, for example, is now believed to only occur in places where political pressures limit the freedoms of the governed, including that of information and free speech. In today’s culture, the institutional arrangement under which medicine is practiced is determined by the political resolutions of a well-structured central government that shapes the social order of the hoi polloi.
Numerous medical achievements and pledges have often been used to fulfill political agenda, or have been exploited in order to justify supralegal acts under the auspices of various political aims throughout history. Some of these instances can be cited and traced back to authoritative political regimes, such as that of communist Cuba under Fidel Castro’s iron fist, which utilized Cuba’s healthcare system to frequently justify the armed revolution and his Marxist-Leninist political regime, even to this day.
A sharp contrast to this example can be examined in the case of Francisco Franco’s rule of Spain, where Franco provided the Spanish population with excellent public health care—to the point where Spain ranked in with one of the highest life expectancies in the world at the time—without expecting the general populace to curry his favor in return. In trying to explain the correlation between politics and medicine in modern society, Eric Krakauer, PhD, postulates the idea of a “medico-political society”; a society in which a nation is seen as “the emergence of population. In Krakauer’s model society, population is an object with specific phenomena and variables—birth and death rates, life expectancy, fertility, state of health, frequency of illnesses, patterns of diet and habitation—which can be scientifically calculated and technologically controlled (Krakauer, 1991). The introduction of medico-political reasoning, such as those outlined by Krakauer, and eugenics in societies driven by fanatic political orders in the 20th century, however, revealed the potential dangers of medical science when employed as a means to execute government policy.
As witnessed over the past century with the various political parties of the more Machiavellian persuasion, and just as it happened in Nazi-Germany where particular atrocious medical policies were carried out by a highly organized killing machine, yet as horrific as it may sound, in many ways a medical undertaking. With the proliferation of global warfare in the 20th century, medicine and medical technology found itself even further intertwined between the affairs of the state.
During the war tainted years that many remember simply as “Dubya-dubya-two”, many brilliant scientists sympathetic with the idea of National Socialism, such as physician Alfred E. Hoche, manipulated medical language to carry out political motive. The result of this medical infusion into government policy led to ethically questionable political projects ordered by Adolf Hitler himself, such as sterilization and euthanizing practices.
Furthermore, through emphasizing the importance of medicine as the nation’s protector and maintainer of health and purity, the ground was paved for the Third Reich’s systematic riddance of the mentally ill, the Jews, communists, and homosexuals from the Aryan nation. Nevertheless, not all political implications and influences have negative consequences in the medical field. The healthcare reform proposed by President Barack Obama, for example, happens to be a political attempt to tackle some of the issues affecting the healthcare system, and has already been considered one of the most significant movements in the history of the medical field.
The precarious healthcare system has many ramifications in social affairs, and according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States has the highest per capita spending in healthcare in the world, and in fact healthcare has become so costly that it accounted for 62 % of American bankruptcies in 2007 due in great part to unpaid medical bills.
Alarming numbers reported by a study conducted by Harvard Medical School showed that approximately 45,000 people die annually due to the lack of basic health coverage, but as severy big enterprise this reform has many challenges to overcome still, and several details about the project will have to be reviewed and amended before it takes full motion, yet some of the basic medical foundations that the reform seeks to deal with has to do with a better care of children to provide well-checks, immunizations and preventive care in order to manage medical issues, such as, diabetes and obesity affecting a great number of American children in an attempt to avoid more complex problems later when they become adults. Public Opinion of Medicine and Media Perception
Public opinion of medicine is vastly affected by diverse factors such as political climate, economic aspects, and most importantly, the way the media reflects its image to the public through either the romanticization or vilification of medical effectiveness and safety. Some of the key elements fueling the opinion-shaping forces in the psyche of the average city dweller at the time of passing judgment on medical science, are the fear of being injured as a result of medical malpractice, and the numerous allegations of corporate malfeasance constantly spread by the media on a daily basis. Surveys show that the public is evidently distressed in a significantly igher level when facing the fear of possible medical malpractice occurring in their lifetime, in comparison to other tragic potential medical scenarios. Some percentages derived from public studies shows that a staggering 47% are afraid of becoming a victim of medical errors when receiving healthcare in general (Kaiser Surveys, 2011). The level of concern from the average citizen regarding healthcare and medical science is quite the opposite of the altruistic and noble goals that much of the fervor and research on medicine was established upon, and this popular anxiety has significant supremacy over other popular fears such as that of flying, which is only possessed by a meager 32% of the travelling population according to polls.
In a social order facing all the tribulations regarding medicine and healthcare, there is one issue that comes out on top in terms of importance and the number of people affected by it, and that is none other than the large amount of citizens without health coverage due to the lack of health insurance. A poll conducted by NBC in 1998 showed that while only 23% of the population has a fear of not being able to afford medical care, 47% have qualms about receiving medical attention due to the possibility of becoming a victim of medical malpractice (Kaiser, 2011). Another concern disturbing the community is the questionable safety of new medications and drugs being released to the market, along with the mixed anxiety regarding their possible side effects.
The FDA has become quite aware of these popular concerns and has established panels to investigate and perform preliminary studies before releasing a new product on to the market. As it is with any other process, however, this process sometimes falls far from being perfect; when the FDA does not encounter enough concerns to postpone the approval of a new drug, they end up conducting post-market studies to fill in the blanks, with drug recalls and abundant lawsuits being the usual result of these premature releases of pharmaceutical products. Historical Trends and the Future Trajectory of Medicine Previous Trends in Medicine Medicine, as any other science, became what it is today through a long process of experimentation and research.
Like in any scientific process, it also had to deal with uncertainty and the hope that the result of such venture will become a breakthrough in an attempt to create a new trend for self-improvement. Several examples of trends can be cited to illustrate the various processes that led medicine to overcome the lack of knowledge about the human condition; the more recent efforts in achieving better, safer, and more effective patient care are also trends with significant influence in the improvement of the medical field. One of the most considerable trends in biological-medical research took place while investigating reading disabilities between 1850 and 1915.
The significance of these studies left behind a great legacy that later paved the foundations for neuropsychological research. The most important finding during this research was the discovery of anatomical and functional modularity for cortical processes that consequently became the central principle for diagnosing and correcting reading difficulties in patients of all ages. The immense scientific value of the aforementioned findings created a trend in medical research that shifted the focus of neuropsychological explanations of reading difficulties from gross neuro-anatomical studies to investigations of the microstructure of the central nervous system, consequently paving the way for the advent of neuron doctrine.
The ultimate outcome of this scientific shift in research resulted in a better overall interpretation of the concepts of the dimensions of local lesions, autonomous cognitive processes, and etiology (Disabil, 1998). Another especially considerable trend in American medicine was noted in 1995 when a significant decline in the production of primary care physicians was recognized. The decline was directly associated with a decrease in the production of general internists and an increase in the number of subspecialists. In the later decades a large number of entry-level internal medicine residents found themselves anticipating entering a medical subspecialty at a very early stage in their studies.
This modern transition of medical manpower is considered by many as inappropriate, since the creation of virtually independent subspecialty departments may prove detrimental and counter-productive to the education of future physicians. Recommendations for medical educational reforms are currently being reviewed and new proposal have been presented to the American Board of Internal Medicine. The crux of these proposed reforms include the increase of residency from three to four years, and creating investigational units in basic disciplines within the department of internal medicine that would serve as a resource for all the subspecialty divisions (Anderson, 1995). The Future Trajectory of Medicine
Today the medical field finds itself at a crucial point on its road of never-ending development, and now more than ever, the turns and decisions made in our time will have a great impact on future generations due to the fast-paced nature in which medical technology fuels the process of its transformation. There is much room for improvement in the socio-medical status quo, and the actuality of our medical system is influenced by various issues such as, the escalating cost of healthcare, the continuous injuring of patients as a result of medical mistakes and malpractice. As a result, it has now become apparent that patients are looking for a future change in the healthcare structure.
The United States devotes vast amounts of financial resources in maintaining the existing healthcare system and expects high quality care as its return on investment. The crushing reality, however, is that our healthcare system must undergo a makeover of historical proportions in order to redirect and set back on course with the purpose of improving overall patient care in the coming years. Since 2003, annual publications of the National Healthcare Quality Report (NHQR) by the Agency of Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) have played an important role in the mapping of the future trajectory of medicine and the possible reforms required for better allocation of resources and technology.
The result of the careful analysis of the NHQR that has taken place in the later years has led to extensive research and deliberations, but furthermore, the future trajectory committee concluded that the reports alone will not improve the quality of healthcare in the future. Consequently the factual nature of the reports take a compelling case for closing the gap between contemporary performance levels and recommended standards of patient care by focusing on aligning the content of the reports with nationally recognized priority areas for quality improvement to help drive national medical restructuring. At the end of the day, innovative guidelines are being vigorously promoted as the means to improve the effectiveness of American medicine and its healthcare system in the future.
Although existing initiatives show both strengths and weaknesses of these proposed guidelines, now is the time when the attention given to the development guidelines must be matched with the implementation strategies. Also proper scientific evaluation in real clinical settings must be taken into account in order to make a constructive impact in professional behavior, patient outcomes, and healthcare cost. The direction that medicine will take in the near future will not only be dictated by the guidelines and reforms in our contemporary healthcare system, but will be highly influenced by all the technological research enterprises and advances in several key areas, such as genetics, stem cell research, cardiovascular studies, HIV drug therapy, robotic surgery, and cancer treatment. Conclusion
The eternal enterprise for humans trying to achieve a better quality of life by preserving health has been fueled in great part by technology and the marvels accomplished by Medicine, furthermore; the number of benefits that mankind enjoys thanks to the medical achievements accomplished are innumerable, and although, the time in which medicine was first introduced and our present time are strikingly different, the challenges and dilemmas that the medical field faces still the same The characteristics and complexity of science today faces many ethical considerations that require the use of deep moral codes guided by our social morality, and regardless of politics and other mundane affairs occasionally twisting the field of medical science throughout time.
The memory of public opinion will not allow adulterated ideals of political agendas take away or disfigure the noble purposes of a science that was founded with the sole principle of making the trip known as life more enjoyable and pain free, but at the end of the day regardless of the previous trends and future directions that medicine may take in the crusade for the improving of human life and helping those in need, mankind will always count with medicine as its unconditional ally in order to overcome whatever challenges time may bring upon us.