Western Medicine has gotten ahead of itself. We are amazing at keeping people alive with the barest thread of life. But, this is only made possible with our astounding use of technology. Without technology our practices would be reduced to a much more basic form of life preservation. Based off of our technological dependence we create practices that we as practitioners use to monitor our patients for the purposes of said technology. It is hard to understand the tight bond between our patient assessments and our technology until you get to the end of the assessment and realize that you just correctly diagnosed the need for certain technology, but it isn’t there…. Now what?
Case in point: doing the Glascow coma scale which assesses the neurological status of a patient with a series of easy questions and observations of a patient. This neurological assessment then allows you to quickly assess if their neurological status is too low to provide adequate oxygen flow for neurological function: we have a catchy phrase in the US: less than 8 – intubate. So I taught all nurses who were training for Emergency medicine this assessment, for which they need nothing extra but a flashlight – great, right? Very empowering, right? Hmm…. Not so much, when assessments reveal neuro status way below 8 and there is not as much as an oxygen tank available. Now what? How do you look in their faces and say, well, let’s move on to the next patient.
This brings up a moral dilemma for medical workers here: so often you watch life slip away, and there is nothing you can do about it, so you grow really callous. A callous heart and spirit won’t look for ways to improve medicine, because improvement doesn’t change your own quality of life, and you have to have an spirit that says: no matter how hard I fight for change, and whether I see change in my life time or not, I will continue on. Resignation and fight do not go hand in hand.