The advancements in medical technology has completely impacted the healthcare industry. The structure and organization of the entire medical field has been changed. Medicine is continually moving forward due to technology.
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The rise of technology has helped with diagnoses, access to care, treatment plans, and much more. Diseases are being cured, and earlier diagnoses’ have created a healthier and more productive lifespan. Nowadays, we have the capability to keep a life going for an extensive amount of time. Most people would agree that living longer would be wonderful, but for patients’ suffering, that may not be ideal. Prolonged life has become a topic of ethical debate, and there are many things to be considered when discussing it.
There are many difficulties when looking at the quantity vs. the quality of a life. Most patients, when asked, would choose quality over length. Someone who is seriously ill, without the ability to take care of themselves, is no longer able to enjoy their quality of life. One of the most widely used medical advancements is the mechanical ventilator, or breathing machine. A ventilator helps the patient breath while allowing the body to rest and heal. The ventilator is capable of totally breathing for the patient. While this can be great in cases for younger bodies who are capable of springing back to life after their illness passes, an elderly patient is much less likely to recover from conditions causing respiratory failure (Zitter 2017). These patients will live the rest of their life connected to a life-prolonging machine that will, most likely, prevent them from ever moving from a hospital bed again. Realistically, an elderly patient placed on a ventilator will unlikely ever to be freed from it. In an article by Jessica Zitter she stated that, “my experience tells me that if patients actually understand what living on these technologies looks like, they will think twice before accepting these treatments” (Zitter 2017). Furthermore, in a 2008 study in The Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 28 percent of patients with advanced heart failure said they would trade one day of excellent health for another two years in their current state. To make the decision to be put on Prolonged Mechanical Ventilation, or PMV, one must be informed about the condition of permanent dependence. Often older patients that benefit from these life-extending technologies are not properly informed of the pros, cons, and alternatives (Butler). If a patient knew their life would be drawn out, they would choose to receive less technological intervention.
At times, patients are too ill to discuss or determine their decision and the choice must be determined by the patients loved ones. Most of the time, those loved ones have no clue what the patient might want and out of emotion favor toward a longer life,
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