Medicinal thoughts

If one spends eleven hours in a hospital it surely isn’t just another day, and it merits a journal entry. I’m just going to scribble down some thoughts that ran through my mind as the day progressed.

Background: wife was ill; she was treated by a local doctor, but had symptoms that necessitated further checks. We reached the hospital around 10:30 am.

The lady at counter found it difficult (using the system) to register our case, due to some reason. She cursed the system. I sympathized with her; computers are not easy to use. Ask my mother.

Medicine is a lot like an elimination game – using the symptoms, find out possible causes, and through tests eliminate one cause after another until a test reveals the actual cause. In our case, the actual cause was not found at all. After eleven hours of hopping from one department to another, we left for home with the information that nothing was wrong with my wife. On one hand it was good to know that there was no serious problem, but on the other, it left the puzzle unresolved. Why did the symptoms occur, then?

This nature of medicine is what permits – in simple cases – Expert Systems to substitute for humans. Using a database and a set of rules, a system could have prescribed the tests and also come to the conclusions (based on the test results) that the doctors arrived at today. (Of course I’m oversimplifying, and this is an outsider’s picture from someone who doesn’t know anything about medicine. But the day’s events revealed this side of medicine).

Every test that was done needed equipment of such sophistication that it left me dazed. And the glue between the different machines was software that permitted controlling all that complexity. Just being there, watching all those systems being used to determine aspects crucial to the diagnosis, emphasized the huge importance of software working well – one system failure at such a place and who knows what the consequence could be. The social value of software cannot be over-estimated.

The hospital staff did a marvellous job of co-ordinating our case between the different departments. At one stage, when one test (in Neurology) was held up due to results that were awaited (from ENT), they scheduled another test that could be done in the meantime (in yet another department).

I saw more technology today than what my grandmother would have seen in her whole life. Yet, I couldn’t help wondering if her own remedies would have been enough to handle symptoms my wife was experiencing.

If the test results had been different, so would my conclusions about the day.

6 Replies to “Medicinal thoughts”

  1. First of all: *Phew* that your wife seems to be okay. And second: It’s scary how dependant we are on technology. It’s maybe not as advanced here as it is where you are in terms of social use like you describe, but terrifying to know that perhaps, one blip, one voltage fluctuation, and you’ve got results that may have gone wildly haywire.

  2. Good to know she’s ok now. and wish her a big getwell (even if she’s ok now) from here.
    techno-blips, if they happen can be scary! and while we’re on the toic how does one get an RSS feed?

  3. Your last point about your grandmother’s remedies is thought-provoking. Yes, technology helps in a big way but I feel it often loses the larger picture. Sometime ago I asked a school mate who was doing her MBBS if all diseases were psychosomatic and if they delved into the mental state of the patient and she said, ‘Dunno, we don’t have the time for that.’

  4. I tend to think that on the whole, the advantages offered by technology far out-weigh the disadvantages related to the risks it brings in. The “missing big picture” is clearly an area where tons of improvement is needed, but if one looks at medicine, the “big picture” issue seems all the more pre-dominant – instead of treating the body as a whole, different parts are studied separately by specialists in that “department” (Every doctor we met assured us that the problem was not in his or her area, but none could draw an overall picture).

    Rash, regarding RSS, since you use Blogger, you need to do the following once you login to your blog: on the Settings tab, there will be a link to “Site Feed”. Click on that, and in that section choose “Yes” for the option “Publish Site Feed”, and choose “Full” for the “Descriptions” option. That is all 🙂

  5. Thank you. Had no idea this feed thing was hiding in the settings. have provided it and put up a link also. Now taking off to rest after hard work.

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