December 17, 2015
We have come a long way since the time of bleeding out evil spirits as medical care. There was a time when the most dangerous thing a person in need of a doctor could do was visit a doctor. During the medieval period, infant death rates ranged from 30 percent and 50 percent.
Even so, modern medicine is still not perfect. That is why we call it a practice. A recent study shows that babies born on the weekends have a slightly higher death rate than babies born during the week. It is too soon to know all of the factors that make up those weekend death rates, but the human element cannot be ruled out. That said, infant mortality has gone from highly likely, to highly unlikely with the advance of technology. Here are three other areas where technology has revolutionized medical care:
There would be no medical advances without medical research. Companies like Pacific BioStorage are dealing with real world logistics problems like how to move your 80 biostorage freezers from one university to a new lab at another. This simple expediency could mean the difference between developing a cure to the latest health threat, or losing everything in the attempt to relocate to a better lab.
Medical research, like other aspects of science, is best when it is portable and shareable with others in the field. Many experiments are complicated and hazardous. Some may involve proprietary material that has been developed in one lab, and needs to be shared by labs from around the world. All medical advances begin with advances in research.
Better Blood Clot Treatments
We used to think that the number 1 threat in a hospital was infection. We now know that all adverse events in hospitals pale in comparison to blood clots. It is not that infection has not caused its share of preventable deaths. It is just that we have known about infection for a very long time, and have come up with better ways of preventing it. We are just now starting to realize the seriousness of venous thrombosis. And technical advances are allowing us to do something about it.
There is a whole list of things your medical team will do to help prevent deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Depending on your risk factor, those things could include:
- anticoagulant medicine, which helps prevent blood clots, a,d
- compression stockings or a compression device to help keep the blood in your legs circulating,
We also know that DVT is a lower risk when local anesthesia is applied as opposed to general. There are also newer surgical procedures that can make a difference. All-in-all, we still have a long way to go. But we have also come a long way in a relatively short period of time thanks to technical advances.
One of the most exciting advances in medicine has absolutely nothing to do with medicine, or surgery, or research. It has to do with patient education. Not so very long ago, going to a doctor could feel a little like going to a fortune teller. You had no idea what cosmic energies and entities with which doctors were communing. They just looked at a few charts that were Greek to you, said a few words in Latin, and called it a day. The best you could do was nod your head, pretend you were following along, and make a quick dash to Wikipedia and WebMD tot sort it all out as best you could.
Now, patients have access to smartphone apps like Epocrates that can identify loose pills, and alert the user to unsafe interactions between drugs. When Apple introduced the iPad Pro, they were eager to show off its capabilities as a tool for patient education. It is possible that Apple’s Research Kit will encourage other major tech companies to bridge the gap between consumers and healthcare in a way that makes them more aware of what is happening in their body, and providing information that will allow doctors to save more lives than ever before.
With technical advances in research, preventable hospital deaths, and patient education, it is a great time to be alive, and not such a bad time to be sick.
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