Arguments about Medical Iatrogenesis

15.07.2020 in Medicine Essay
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The past three years have witnessed a sudden change of ailments affecting Western societies. Diseases once thought dangerous are now treated with ease and the recorded deaths are attributed to other factors than sicknesses. Nonetheless, the damage done by medicine to the health of patients and populations, in general, is immense. As health is discussed in the essay, it is vital to demarcate it as the circumstance of rational, bodily, and communal well-being and not merely the lack of malady or frailty. Ivan Illich has made a significant contribution to the theories of medicalization. In fact, Illich has analyzed the notion of iatrogenic ailment. According to the researcher, Iatrogenesis includes various aspects like the clinical, social, and cultural Iatrogenesis that have had a bad impact on the industrial society for its role in advancing corruption, incapacitating people, and limiting freedom (Illich, 2002). The following essay, however, does not consider these three aspects wholly but focuses on the clinical Iatrogenesis in the context of Ivan Illich’s Medical Nemesis.

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Conferring to the data in the United Kingdom, it reveals that the approximation of over 215,000 deaths each year is attributed to iatrogenic, whereby coronary ailments and cancer are observed to be resulting in extra deaths yearly (Shaffer, Philips, & Enzer,2009,p. 241). Some iatrogenic impacts in numerous cases are wholly defined and may be established quickly like the complications necessitating the surgical procedure. Nonetheless, the less obvious complications require a significant inquiry to determine and distinguish like severe drug interactions.

Iatrogenesis entails any effect on an individual resulting from any event of one or more people operating as healthcare experts or advancing products or services as significant to health that does not support an objective of the individual affected (Medical Dictionary, 2016).

Illich’s Medical Nemesis represents a radical critique of biomedicine and the medical field, which was very authoritative in the 1980s. In contrast to another approach known as the Foucauldian social constructionist approach, the author does not try to investigate the principles and core issues of medical knowledge. On the contrary, Illich seeks to challenge its application. According to the writer, more issues of everyday life can be regarded from the perspective of the biomedical sphere of influence. Moreover, Illich refers to those spheres, which were earlier regarded as typical conditions, including pregnancy, childhood, aging, and dying.

In the book, medicalization is allied to a process that Ivan referred to as Iatrogenesis. The approach entails the adverse repercussions of medical interventions. Nonetheless, the plan supersedes practitioners causing direct harm and also encompasses both cultural and social spheres of life. Illich argues that the concept of medicine had deprived people and society of their ability to cope with ailments and death (Lynn & Slevin, 2003, p. 122). Therefore, according to the researcher, Iatrogenesis cannot be comprehended unless it is viewed narrowly as a clinical manifestation of distinct counter-productivity.

In clinical Iatrogenesis, the injury is delivered to the patients by toxic, unproductive, or careless treatment. When pain appears again, there exist numerous typical varieties of Iatrogenesis that subsidise to the onset of symptoms as well as dissemination and worsening of preexisting conditions. Severe postoperative pain is followed by constant one in 10-50% of persons. Usually, it happens after related surgeries like thoracic and breast surgeries (Gould, Brooker, & Gould, 2008, p. 167). Iatrogenic complications are typical, and many individuals who are impacted include the aged and the young patients. The complications comprise the severe effects as falls, interactions, pressure ulcers and other pertinent complications to the operation. However, prevention is always possible (O’Dea & Erikson, 2010, p. 341). After understanding the risk factors, the proper measures should be taken into consideration to prevent such elements causing complicated situations (Miller, 2013, p. 178).

Health, argues the researcher, is the capability to cope with the human reality of death, pain, and sickness (Illich, 2002). Therefore, technology may assist, but contemporary medicine has exceeded the limits by launching into a godlike fight to exterminate death, pain, and disease. Consequently, it turns individuals into consumers or objects damaging their capability for health. Iatrogenic ailments do not significantly result from medical mistakes like errors made in surgery, the prescriptions, or providing the incorrect treatment (Rabiul, 2016). However, iatrogenic death has become a leading death causative in the United Kingdom surpassing death by stroke (Kazer, 2008, p. 289).

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Illich tries to highlight the passivity with which people have control over their bodies. Conferring to the researcher, the doctor induced ailment is increasing (Kazer, 2008, p.289). According to Hanson (2011), iatrogenic disease or demise instigated purposefully or by preventable mistake or carelessness on the therapist’s part becomes criminal wrongdoing in numerous civilizations. Being exposed to tests and cures for a significantly less health issue, a patient faces the danger of acquiring a severe problem than the original. Practitioners have been conscious of this significant perception since medicine became an establishment. Some advances in iatrogenic ailment can, ironically, represent clinical improvements that prompt some patients to live either longer or more gratifying irrespective of possessing severe conditions. The researcher picks an instance, usually in his favour, declaring that consultants sanctimoniously choose one in every five people impacted by kidney failure and advise him or her to prefer the divine right of passing away to widespread torture on dialysis. Another issue is that iatrogenic causes esophageal perforation in 56% of cases (Amini, Abdegah, & Radmard, 2016).

Far from acknowledging the challenging argument of death versus amputation, Illich creates an image of the practitioner as a wicked charlatan that targets the healthy. As described in the book, the practitioners tend to congregate where the climate is healthy, and where the affected persons can reimburse their services. The researcher also argues that the widespread concerns of intragenic effects of medicine have developed it to the extent that the medical field has changed to a major risk to health (Illich, 2002). The discourse that medicine can negatively impact resonates with further developments relating to the notion of social control, especially to contemporary medicine. Contrary to being exercised for patient wellbeing and welfare, medicine seems to be expanding its interests to infinite minutiae of social livings (Illich, 2002). Not only are the medical tools more available for the patients, but the healthy are convinced that they could still be at danger and purposely adhere to the medical counsel.

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Symptom overreporting increases cases of Iatrogenesis and enhance expenditure (Lippa, Lange, Bailie, Kennedy, & Brickell, 2016). The net effect boosts daily medicalization (Illich, 2002). The researcher argues that the general availability of healthcare for the population has resulted in growing reliance on practitioners (Illich, 2002). Such offer of healthcare services has undermined the capability of people to manage ailments as they supposedly did in the past. In an iatrogenic health service, individuals rely significantly on the system to sustain them through entire life with minor problems. Illich states that offering health services to meet apparent necessity is counterproductive and detrimental (Illich, 2002).

Internationally as of 2013, a projected 20 million adverse effects from treatment happened (Global Burden of Disease Study, 2013). Expanding the volume of health services creates more significant necessity by lessening individual’s thresholds and encourages enhanced utilization, which in turn is faced by increasing resources. Desirable feedback of need to create demand and necessitate extra resources is formed, finally resulting to calamity (Illich, 2002). For the researcher, the increased availability of health services is abnormal. Liberal health service provision convinces individuals to use the health service more than they need. Over time, people slowly become dependent on this overuse treating it is an essential part of maintaining health. However, Illich claims that this dependence itself is a type of sickness that undermines the appropriate health of independent humankind (Illich, 2002). Thus, Illich notes that people should not be bounded to medication, and that a perfect world encompasses optimally fit persons with a least of medical involvement. Illich’s first resolution is to eradicate the medical institution’s domination on health and re-establish individual accountability, as it was, no doubt, mutual until the arrival of state welfare.

In conclusion, the Medical Nemesis by Ivan Illich seeks to describe that practitioners and the availability of health resources have contributed to more health complications than before. According to the author, the health establishments have to be blamed for several deaths that are unnecessary since they are preventable (Illich, 2002). Therefore, though a significant impact on the cure for diseases that once were dangerous exists, the majority of deaths is doctor-induced and as such forms the basis of Illich’s argument. The author doubts the reliability of such medical interference on human lives arguing that it causes great harm to the healthy. 

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