…The body was conceptualized as a machine in which all the parts functioned together to ensure health; if some parts broke down, clinicians intervened to limit and treat damage. (Jones, 1994 block 1, p.88)
The statement above is a good way of describing the biomedical approach; its focus lays on curing the disease not the whole person. The approach generally involves looking for single, very specific causes for illnesses, with corresponding specific treatments, like antibiotics for infections that are expected to be effective for that illness in most people, under most conditions.
Although widely recognized that psychological components play a big role in causation and treating an illness, most health care professions would put this into practice when using the biomedical approach. As a treatment it still can in many situations fail to happen.
When treating a patient it can be crucial to take the person’s life, emotions and background into account as well as treating him/her medically. A simple example is that if you have a bad headache it will go away if you treat it with some paracetamol. However if the reason for the headache to occur in the first place continues then so will the headache. Despite the painkillers.
This problem Lynne would (block 1,p90) also encounter if, as mentioned in the course work, she were to seek medical help some years down the line. If she where to be treated accordingly to the biomedical model, she would probably receive some tranquillizers and some sleeping tablets for her distress and for her to sleep better.
However that would only cure the symptom of the problem not take away the situation that’s causing the problem.
Some people argue that its outside doctors remit to be concerned about the health effects of peoples personal lives. Others feel that they go hand in hand and campaigning for a change in some of the healthcare professionals attitudes towards the biomedical model. (Block 1, p91)
Chronic diseases, Parkinsons for instance another example where the Biomedical models goal to cure isn’t achievable, and the emphasis needs to lay on making the patients as comfortable as can be and if possible to keep the illness under control rather than curing it. A more social and care centered approach is needed as in these cases relatives and friends play a big role in their over all well being.
These patients may have a great need to be very involved in their treatment and medication, some even become experts on their disease(Block 1, p.93)
Another thing to take into account when discussing the weaknesses of this approach, is the ethic side of producing these medicines and gene answers. For example the research that is
being done on stem cells have the potential to yield new treatments and cures for many diseases, but at what cost? Human embryos- whether cloned or not- need to be destroyed to obtain those stems cells that’s needed which raise fundamental moral and theological questions.
In many cases the way that some doctors practice this model leaves a lot to wish for, rather than just trying to achieve the cure, they need to address the fact that not all patients will necessarily benefit from being cured or having their life prolonged for example older people. We could recently read in the newspapers about Mrs Frances Polack that so strongly did not wish to receive treatment to prolong her life that she tattooed in “do not resuscitate” on her chest, because as a former nurse herself she knew that her wish to die peacefully and unworked upon might be hard to meet in a real world where there are relatives that want to have her around for as long as possible and doctors that feel they might be able to save her with the help of the biomedical approach.
Some years ago I was working as a health care assistant at a hospital ward where we looked after a very old and very sick woman. She had no relatives alive, she was living on her own and she had previously lost both her legs. She had also been suffering from various cancer types for the past 10 years. The doctors decided that the best course of action was to give this woman a hysterectomy in an attempt to cure her latest tumors.
She never regained consciousness after the operation and spent the next 4 weeks in a terrible condition before she passed away.
Maybe in a situation like this it would be in the patients best interest if the biomedical approach hadn’t been used to try to cure her, but to let nature run its course and make her feel as comfortable as possible.
On the other side of the argument we have a biomedical model that is curing many illnesses
And whose research saves lives. Without this model we wouldn’t have the benefits of vaccinations nor antibiotics. Its research has also given the medical professionals tools to fight inherited illnesses and the chance to use transplants in curing or treating patients.
Furthermore, pregnancy and childbirth is one way to show how the bio model can be used alongside a more care-centered approach. You can choose if you wish for a natural childbirth or opt for a medically controlled version. They also offer a variety of surveillance techniques like ultrasound imaging and electronic monitoring. I believe that in many cases having these options might leave the parents to be more relaxed and happy to be more open in their approach to a natural childbirth if they know that their baby is doing ok.
As we read in Mr Mihill’s article (block 1 p, 96) many women had very bad experiences with antenatal tests, but mainly it concerned the health professionals lack
of recognizing the parents right for a choice and their chosen approach after the result of the test and not the test its self. I think that if providing antenatal tests or screenings in the right manner it can give you vital information to ensure that we are doing everything that we can to help and sometimes save babies that are born with certain defects.
As a conclusion I think most people would agree that the biomedical approach is doing wonderful things and opening doors and opportunities for peoples health and well-being that cannot be dismissed. However there is many things to take into account when its being practiced, the patients own wishes need to be listened to and emphasize should be put on healing the patients physically as well as psychologically.