Friday night topic: Limits of modern medicine


— 6:46 PM on August 5, 2005

Modern medicine is a wonder. One can go to the doctor with an ailment that would have been life-threatening 50 or 100 years ago, get a prescription, and be cured within a week. The applications of technology to solve health problems are staggeringly effective compared to what people used to know. Yet if a medical problem doesn't fall within the bounds of a known discipline or medical specialty, the contemporary medical approach too often breaks down. A patient may ping-pong among multiple specialists who seem to see only the common problems and indicators for which they are trained, at the expense of considering other factors or—too often it seems—the patient's whole health.

This situation has given rise to the realms of alternative and complementary medicine, where the modern approach is replaced or supplemented by a broader awareness of things like proper nutrition, exercise, skeletal alignment, traditional non-Western medicine, and the like.

Should modern medicine be more cross disciplinary? More "holistic"? Does medical training overemphasize memorization, pharmaceuticals, and technology at the expense of other important factors? Or are those outside the boundaries of the medical establishment all just quacks?

Discuss.

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