Customer Review

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Medical Techno-fix, May 26, 2012
This review is from: Techno-Fix: Why Technology Won't Save Us Or the Environment (Paperback)
Although the book discusses in great depth with the effects of technology on the environment and society, as a medical student I was particularly interested in reading the sections dealing with technology and medicine. Among the unintended consequences of high-technology medicine, the book mentions the more than 200,000 iatrogenic deaths per year in the US. The book spells out in great length antibiotic resistance and the resulting hospital infections as an example of our failure to completely control "nature" because we ignore the delicate ecological balance between pathogens and hosts. If antibiotic resistance continues to increase and no new antibiotics come on the market, many routine surgeries will become much more dangerous because of risk of infection.

As someone interested in public health and prevention, I liked how the book shows data demonstrsting that most of the increases in life expectancy were the result of better nutrition and sanitation (i.e. prevention), and not advanced medical interventions. It is sobering to read that large declines in mortality from infectious diseases occurred before the introduction of antibiotics in the 1940s - so antibiotics can't be credited for this. The discussion of the placebo effect fascinated me as well, since up to one third of all cures could be due to the placebo effect rather than high-tech treatments and surgeries. Perhaps we should give emphasis to the placebo effect? Perhaps our unrealistic optimism about high-tech medicine may be misplaced?

The argument in this book is relevant to our changing times in regards to health care policy, since high-tech medical intervention is one contributor to inflation of healthcare costs. This information is important in the comparison to other Western countries that have universal coverage, since data shows that the US model is failing to improve the overall health of the nation. The book suggests educating people, perhaps using similar strategies as have been employed for anti-smoking campaigns, to embrace healthier life-styles and offer free preventative medical check-ups. I think this is a great idea but implementation might be very difficult due to entrenched interests. Indeed, T.R. Reed's words come to mind "If we can find political will, the other countries can show us the way".

Overall, a very well written and researched book. I recommend it highly not only to environmentalists but also to any student pursuing medicine.
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