The term medical technology refers to the procedures, equipments and processes by which medical care is delivered. It also includes medical and surgical procedures, medicines and drugs, medical devices, and new support systems (2007). It is designed to improve the detection, diagnosis, treatment and monitoring of diseases and illnesses through uses in applied mechanical, chemical, mathematical, and computerized knowledge systems ( 2005). Medical technology in today's society is often seen as a treatment or cure for human health issues.

In this regard, it can be understood that medical technology is the combination of knowledge, application and strategies that would provide improvement in the condition and welfare of patients having diseases and illnesses. Such a definition has a big impact on healthcare, most especially in terms of patient care, as the primary and sole recipient of medical technology includes the people afflicted with diseases or illnesses. However, the negative impacts of this technology are often left unexposed to the public until too late.

Effects of Western Medical Technology to Patients

Medicine, such as antibiotics are often perceived to be of benefit to humans as it is commonly used to treat bacterial infectious diseases. On the other hand, antibiotics can have unpleasant consequences if taken in dosages that do not completely eradicate the pathogen, thereby contributing to resistance. Antibiotics can also be used abusively when physicians prescribe the drug unnecessarily or if patients become complacent and do not adhere to the necessary antibiotic therapy. From these examples it is easy to see that medicines can cause adverse effects if taken in excess, small dosages or if used in the wrong way.

Drugs created by medical technology are intended to help humans recover from their illness or improve their condition, however they are harmful if taken in small dosages, in excess or if used in the wrong way. For example if more than 400mg of vitamin E if is taken a day it will act as a blood thinner. Large doses of vitamin A causes heart problems. An overdose of cold and fly medications can lead to liver failure.

Throughout time people have become increasingly reliant on modern medicine. This is especially so in today's modern society. Medical intervention by use of technology has been able to help prolong many lives. An example of this is those who suffer from asthma. These sufferers may use air purifiers and/or nebulizers along with prescribed medication to help them live more comfortable and longer lives.

It can be deemed a miracle that we are able to help so many people overcome their illnesses with medical technology. The current technologies available are able to do incredible things but people must be constantly aware of other modern technologies that can interfere and put the patient at risk. An example of this is the pacemaker which has the ability to save a person's life and ultimately extend it. However, external factors can interfere with medical technology and ultimately put the patient at risk. For example, radiation from everyday items such as microwaves to wireless devices such as mobile phones can affect the operation of the pace maker. Thus medical technology has a negative impact on the user of this device as it places environmental limitations on where he or she can go. Users of such a device therefore need to be continuously wary of their environment. In addition, the implementation of a pace maker prevents users from undertaking MRI scans as the process interferes with the function of the device. This is a prime example of medicine acting against itself,

All medical technology needs to be treated and used with caution. Respirators need to be constant monitored and the same applies for the simplest drips. Hospitals nowadays are equipped with technology that requires the operating knowledge of hospital staff and medical professionals. The medical technology that is used in hospitals needs to be carefully monitored. Misuse could lead to an accident that has the possibility to cause a long term negative effect for the patient. It is due to the above reason that today, proficient clinical settings require the consistent expertise of all medical staff in relation to the operation of medical technology.

Medical technology was invented for our health and well being. However there is always the risk of unforeseen consequences. An example of this is LASIK (Laser-Assisted In-Situ Keratomileusis) eye surgery, an operation where a patient has his or her vision corrected. Eyesight clinics advertised that the operation would improve a person's vision and give freedom to those who did not like wearing glasses or contacts all the time. Before user a laser to correct the vision the operation required the practitioner to cut open the patient's corner. During the trial stages of the operation, this procedure led to several unsuccessful results where the patients suffered from extremely dry eyes, milky vision and poorer eyesight than prior to the operation. Other disastrous results included foggy visions, starbursts around lights and double vision. These after effects negatively impacted the lives of the patients greatly as they now had worse vision than prior to the operation.

However, it is thanks to researchers that the medical technology in this field has advanced to a level where the risks are now minimal. These professionals are currently working on a new method of corrective eye surgery where it will not be necessary to cut open the cornea before lasik surgery is used. There will be even less of a chance that things will go wrong if the answer to this problem is found.

The Gamma Ray, used to eliminate cancerous cells around the brain without the use of open surgery, is another example where medical technology could have negative effects. Its intention was to cure people with cancerous cells in places of high risk or in places that could not be safely accessed by open surgery. The risk lies in the calculation of the amount of radiation that is directed at the cancer. If there is a miscalculation the laser may destroy the cancer and other cells around it, leading to brain damage.

Effects of Western Medical Technology to Medical Team

Dependency Upon Machines

One concern among the impacts of medical technology upon doctors and/or the medical team is that medical technology enlarges the physician’s knowledge of disease, but it also creates a dependence upon machines and laboratory experts. This creates the risk of making medical judgments based solely on technical data without allowing for the possibility of error or considering the patient’s views. Doctors who have an overdependence on chemical laboratory tests or x-rays for diagnostic purposes without regard to their relevance may actually be putting the patient at greater risk. The emphasis on what diagnosis the technology provides rather than what the patients says or the physician’s professional judgment results in potential division between doctor and patient. The overall consequence is that the physician spends less time with patients, but requires greater amounts of data for an accurate diagnosis at higher cost. Nonetheless, concerns in the medical community regarding the risks of over-reliance on medical technology have not changed the practice of depending on it.

Precision in medical diagnosis hinges on three characteristics: the consistency or stability of the phenomena (disease or illness) being measured, the intrinsic accuracy of the measure or test used (also known as repeatability), and the ability of the observer (physician or technician) to accurately record and interpret the data (known as reproducibility). Medical technology has improved the repeatability of the measures used to diagnose and treat illness. However, new diseases and illness continue to wage war successfully against humankind (e.g., acquired immune deficiency (AIDS), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Parkinson’s disease, cancer, flu, and the common cold). Their persistence indicates the powerlessness of the use of medical technology to address unpredictable or unstable ailments. The use of medical technology has improved the accuracy (reproducibility) of medical diagnosis, but it has not eliminated human error as evidenced by the continuing and sometimes tragic medical mistakes. Technology will always be grounded in the people who use it and the medical systems in which it is applied.

Effects of Western Medical Technology to Society

Extending Life Expectancy

Heart disease and its consequence, heart attack, is the leading cause of death in the U.S. and a good example of how new technology has changed the treatment and prevention of a disease over time. In the 1970s, cardiac care units were introduced, lidocaine was used to manage irregular heartbeat, beta-blockers were used to lower blood pressure in the first 3 hours after a heart attack, “clot buster” drugs began to be widely used, and coronary artery bypass surgery became more prevalent. In the 1980s, blood-thinning agents were used after a heart attack to prevent reoccurrences, beta-blocker therapy evolved from short-term therapy immediately after a heart attack to maintenance therapy, and angioplasty (minimally invasive surgery) was used after heart attack patients were stable. In the 1990s, more effective drugs were introduced to inhibit clot formation, angioplasty was used for treatment and revascularization along with stents to keep blood vessels open, cardiac rehabilitation programs were implemented sooner, and implantable cardiac defibrillators were used in certain patients with irregular heartbeats. In the 2000s, better tests became available to diagnose heart attack, drug-eluting stents were used, and new drug strategies were developed (aspirin, ACE inhibitors, beta-blockers, statins) for long-term management of heart attack and potential heart attack patients. From 1980-2000, the overall mortality rate from heart attack fell by almost half, from 345.2 to 186.0 per 100,000 persons.3

Another example of how advances in technology have changed health outcomes over time is in the treatment of pre-term babies, for which very little could be done in 1950. But by 1990, changes in technology, including special ventilators, artificial pulmonary surfactant to help infant lungs develop, neonatal intensive care, and steroids for mother and/or baby, helped decrease mortality to one-third its 1950 level, with an overall increase in life expectancy of about 12 years per low-birthweight baby.

Quality Improvement of Health Care

Major technological advances have furnished the clinical ability to help patients cope with diabetes, heart disease, cancer, HIV-AIDS. Specialists were trained to use new technologies to provide better diagnosis, make fast and more complete cures, increase safety of medical treatments, and minimize side effects. To ensure that drugs and medical technologies are safe and effective for their intended usage, they need to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) by law. For example, better anesthetic agents and practices have reduced the burden of surgery on patients, producing faster patient recoveries, shorter hospital stays, and fewer medical errors.

Promotion of Economic Growth

Because consumers demand for better health, advanced medical technology are perceived as ways to promote these goals. Direct care providers incorporate new technology because they want to improve the services they offer to their patients, but they also may feel the need to offer the “latest and best” as they compete with other providers for patients. Health care professionals, like people in other occupations, are also motivated by professional goals (e.g., peer recognition, tenure, prestige) to find ways to improve practice. Commercial interests (such as pharmaceutical companies and medical device makers) are willing to invest large amounts in research and development because they have found strong consumer interest in, and financial reimbursement for, many of the new products they produce. In addition, public and private investments in basic science research lead directly and indirectly to advancements in medical practice. Thus, these investments then promote the growth in the nation economy.