Advances in technology have given the world numerous benefits in the areas of medicine and health care. Diseases and conditions that were once difficult to treat are now manageable or even curable, in some cases. Many people owe their lives to science.
On the other hand, many people have lost their lives because of science. Devices for the purpose of helping patients can end up catastrophically harming and even killing their users. In fact, over the years, medical products have not become safer but rather deadlier, reports the New York Times, resulting in around 3,000 deaths annually. How has this happened?
Lack of monitoring
Although multiple drugs have gone through recalls and lawsuits, the regulations regarding medicine are stricter and more consistent than they are with devices. This lack of proper reporting, data collecting and investigating allows for a greater extent of damage to occur. Furthermore, the information that does reach the government is often incomplete or not standardized, making it hard to identify the specific products that are problematic.
As in the pharmaceutical industry, manufacturers of devices may not test their products sufficiently before putting them on the market in an effort to beat out competition and make more profits. Even worse, they may sell devices that they know to have dangerous flaws.
Sometimes it takes time for defects and side effects to show, even after rigorous testing. What was once considered safe and standard may later end up being the complete opposite as experts gain new knowledge and understanding of materials, designs, processes and usage.
Improvements in the monitoring system can significantly reduce the rate of injuries and deaths. Doing so would come with a high price tag, but so do the injuries and fatalities that devices cause. It is better for great costs to come from saving lives than from dealing with the aftermath of dangerous products.