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Medicine Technology

Medicine  technology has created new ethical dilemmas for medical professionals. Medical technology has forced the re-evaluation of the traditional definitions of life and death. The concept of birth is now subject to debate as live fetuses can be removed from the womb many weeks prior to traditional delivery. The concept of death is also being revisited as patients can now be resuscitated after prolonged heart, lung, or even brain failure. The ethical considerations of death and when it occurs can be illustrated through two cases: one hallmark case in the 1970s and a recent case still unresolved.  

Historically the definition of death has been closely related to the extent of medical knowledge and the availability of technology. For the centuries prior to artificial respirators, death was defined as the absence of breathing. It was often believed that human existence resided in the spiritus (breath); its absence was indicative of death. With the advances in knowledge of human physiology and the development of medical technologies to revive a person who is not breathing, attention then turned to the pulsating heart as the focal point in determination of death. However, this view changed with the addition of technological advances in supportive therapy, resuscitation, cardiovascular assistive devices, and organ transplantation (Dickerson, 2002).


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