ICBioethics Blog 

Technology is the Villain?

Written by:  Ryan Pferdehirt

As advanced healthcare technologies continue to emerge, ethical questions about these technologies will emerge, as well. Not unusual are news stories, most recently Jahi McMath’s and Marlise Munoz’s sad stories, featuring lives sustained (albeit questionably) by modern technology. Both, declared brain dead, continued to “live” through the assistance of machines, including a ventilator. A national debate ensued about the ethics of these situations, some seeking a villain to blame.

Dr. Craig Klugman’s blog (“It’s the Ventilator’s Fault”) blames the ventilator (to be more accurate, its automatic overuse). Without use of the ventilator, hearts would have stopped, all body functions would have ceased, and, true, there would’ve been no debate.

Before ventilators and other life-sustaining technology, determination of death may have appeared less complicated, maybe less debatable. . . but so what? Haven’t many lives been saved by innovative technologies of the day without leading to ethical debates? I see really tangled fine lines . . .

Some people would rather let fate, not ventilators, maintain or end life, and they’re free to express that in their own advanced directives. Others argue for technology and say: sustain life when possible; debate the ethics later! Unless something dramatically changes, this is just a preview: as medical technology continues to advance at a staggering rate, in unimaginable ways, even more complex ethical debates will go unresolved.

How do you feel about new technology in health care? Will it bring more good than harm?

Mitch GennusoComment