n Medical Technology SA - Ethical challenges in medical technology use - research

Volume 32 Number 2
  • ISSN : 1011-5528


As such, medical technology, serves the purpose of seeking to enhance the quality of human life. In recent times, the effects of societal and ethical as well as legal aspects of technologies in medicine have come under the spotlight. Clinicians invariably use a wide assortment of technologies within the spectrum of laboratory medicine in diagnosing, treating and assessing the care of patients. These assortments of technologies play a pivotal role in healthcare and one could argue that medical practice is now fundamentally dependent on these technologies. While medical technology should be reducing the overall cost of treating patients due to its ability to enhance prevention by deriving custom-made therapies, this is not the case. Medical technology is conversely becoming more expensive, and as it is use increases, so does the cost of healthcare for patients at all levels of the socio-economic spectrum. The increasing use of high-end technology is very expensive, thereby increasing the cost of for example, laboratory testing. These ever increasing costs are beyond the reach of the average South African citizen who cannot afford the exorbitant costs of medical aid.

This article addresses the ethicality of what is seemingly an unjust practice. It asserts that there should be greater efforts not only by the industry to develop suitable affordable technologies, but also by the various pathology laboratory sectors in accordance with the various medical needs and priorities of South African society. The local healthcare market is undergoing substantial cost constraints. If any new offerings are to be adopted by all healthcare providers, they first need to validate the cost in contrast to the assessable improvement such offerings can provide to improve or stabilise patient healthcare. The ever increasing cost of healthcare is unaffordable for the majority of South African citizens. All this can be construed as unethical practice since it increases medical costs for other citizens, as medical aid schemes are obliged to pass on these exorbitant costs incurred by them, to their members.

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