Tuesday, February 11, 2014

CH.3-5 Technology in the hospital

In chapters three through five the book discusses the increase in the use of tests in the hospital by describing the changes in urinalysis and the use of the X-ray machine.  The urinalysis had been used since maybe the 15th century; however it was modified in the early 19th century.  Aside from color and specific gravity people also began testing for things like sugar and urea.  This was made more efficient with the use of new centrifuges. When the author showed the frequency of each test, urea was shown to be rarely tested on.  The author seemed to have no conclusive reason for the sparsity of this test, but he suggested it was just up to how partial the physician was to performing the test.  This was interesting because, in light of the recent publication claiming the urea test's usefulness, it showed the reality of how new discoveries don't always result in immediate application.  
This reading also revealed how new tests and machines, such as the X-ray and the new urinalysis, forced many patients to become dependent on hospital care as opposed to care at home. X-rays and lab equipment were near impossible or inconvenient to bring to the home so, despite transportation issues, most patients needed to be in a hospital for these tests.
  It was also strange to learn that women were less likely to receive X-rays than men.  The author suggest it may be the result of the different lifestyles the two genders led, citing facts such as men were more likely to be hospitalized for trauma than women.  Still, with the unsafe nature of the X-ray it was suggested that maybe physicians assumed women would react badly to the scary machine and possibly pursue legal action on the hospital.  This is plausible with the given example of the women and her child getting knocked down by a spark from the machine, but it still shows the sexist assumptions of the times.  Aside from the negatives, these tests and machines allowed the physician to further objectify himself from body examinations and improve diagnoses.

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