TREATMENTS - BETTER RESEARCH
week there seems to be a news story highlighting an unanticipated drug
side-effect, a surgical mishap, a rampant infection, or a mismanaged
pregnancy. Some critics go further: they portray today’s science-based
medicine as dehumanising – as if the butchery that preceded modern
surgery or the poisons that once passed for therapeutic drugs were
FOR BETTER HEALTHCARE - EXCERPT
CHAPTER I - Page 1
NEW – BUT NO BETTER
OR EVEN WORSE
somehow more humane.²
Yet modern medicine has been hugely successful.³ The development of
effective drugs has revolutionised the treatment of heart attacks and
high blood pressure and enabled many people with schizophrenia to
emerge from mental hospitals to live at home. The effectiveness of
stomach ulcers has done away with the need for major surgery, and
futile treatments such as milk diets have been consigned to history.
Childhood immunisation has made polio and diphtheria distant memories.
It is easy to forget that leukaemia was once an almost uniformly fatal
disease; and patients now regularly live with other cancers instead of
dying from them. In west and equatorial Africa, the disease known as
river blindness, which is caused by the larva of a type of fly, once
left many people blind. It has now been virtually eradicated by drug
Modern imaging techniques have also brought significant benefits.
Ultrasound, computed tomography (CT), and magnetic resonance imaging
(MRI) have helped to ensure that patients are accurately diagnosed and
receive the right treatment. For example, MRI can reveal what type of
stroke a patient has suffered. If the stroke is caused by bleeding into
the brain (haemorrhagic stroke), then aspirin, which is useful in other
types of stroke, might be dangerous. Surgical and anaesthetic
techniques, too, have been greatly improved.