Twentieth Century Medicine: is it good for you

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Last updated: April 7, 2019

Medicine of the 20th century is a great deal more powerful and effective than that of previous centuries. But with this power has come a price, several in fact, all adding up to a bill of human suffering that seems horrendous. Thalidomide, salmonella, super bugs, the list goes on.

But with these consequences, great learning has happened and the majority of medical treatments are of benefit to humanity. A sizeable portion saving lives.An example of this is smallpox, which, thanks to Jenner’s discovery of vaccinations, has been wiped off the planet, except in controlled laboratory conditions. The four main points of criticism when it comes to 20th century medicine are drugs, vaccines, hospitals and high technology medicine. High technology medicine is criticised because it is basically seen as being too powerful, e. g.

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it can make a body that is technically brain dead, chemically alive or where the medicine is so powerful that a small slip up can have disastrous results.Put it simply it seems to put the power of God into the hands of a doctor, who is only human, and humans are not infallible, so mistakes are made occasionally and people die. That said high technology is also powerful enough to tackle the some of the most serious injuries and diseases known to man, like cancer, without powerful drugs and radio therapy (radiation – not the wireless! ) most cancer patients would die, but because of powerful medical advances, 7 out of 10 children survive the most common childhood form of leukaemia and advances in treating cancer are occurring as I type this.Modern hospitals are criticised, for being self defeating in some ways, for example, if there was a breakout of salmonella, or food poisoning in a hospital kitchen, it would be more harmful than some where else because it would reach a larger group of people than, say a school. But also, it would be more harmful because most people in a hospital are already in a weakened state, making it easier for the food poisoning to become really serious.

However hospitals are very important institutions for teaching as well as healing.They also provide the best healthcare possible for most illnesses under one roof. They provide a focal point for people to go, and if they are unsure what is seriously wrong with them, the doctor can diagnose them and send them to an appropriate ward. Without them having to leave the hospital most of the time. Vaccines are criticised because they are one purpose medicines, that can have side effects that can damage as much as the disease. Like the vaccine for whooping cough, which was later found to cause brain damage which is sometimes almost as bad as death.

Even with these side effects diseases can adapt to these vaccines anyway. But vaccination has saved millions and millions of lives, we consider the jabs painful and inconvenient, but when one considers the horrors of TB, just one of the diseases that we are vaccinated against, you understand just how lucky we are to have them. Drugs are criticised for many reasons, some can be addictive, others too powerful for the human system to take in other than miniscule quantities, others with horrendous side effects. A drug that seems to encompass all of these is steroids.

They can be addictive psychologically, they have to be used carefully, or they overload the heart and abuse can lead to all kinds of side effects (some too embarrassing to mention in a school essay! ). However, think of the problems without powerful drugs such as penicillin, and how many would die without chemotherapy. How much would people suffer without powerful anaesthesia, without which vital modern surgery would be impossible. In conclusion, modern medicine is like any other kind of incredibly potent power in the modern world.Like nuclear energy, if modern medicine is misused then results can be terrible, also, like nuclear energy, it can be used for great good. Nuclear energy is the only solid fuel which can be used, then 97% of it can be used again. Modern medicine has saved millions of lives, but if like plutonium, it is misused then it can kill, with greater ease than most think.

Twentieth century medicine is one of the most potent forces known to man, it can save life almost miraculously, and when a mistake is made, then it can take life just as quickly.It has given hope to many, where as its misuse has cause the suffering of many as well. But in my opinion modern medicine is worth the risk, for every mistake made, thousands are helped by medicine. I am not justifying moments of incompetence, but you must understand that doctors are as human as the people they treat (most of the time! ) hence they make mistakes.

Modern medicine does much more good than harm, but alternatives should still be investigated, and used if they are found to be cheaper and more effective.

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