Science, Art, Litt, Science based Art & Science Communication
Q: Is medical science imperfect?
I think science as a whole is not at all imperfect. Because science is perfect, the universe and its constituents are working wonderfully.
What makes something imperfect is the human mind's inadequacy to understand perfectly how science that governs this universe works and how to make the course corrections if something goes wrong.
When several factors decide outcomes, they follow the interplay of scientific rules and routes and exactly fit into the reaction realities. You have to register this in your mind to come out of the misery you are in. Watch it coolly and try to understand it. How a person survives a health condition or a catastrophe or a bad situation depends on the sum total outcomes of scientific factors occurring simultaneously. Other outside things have no effect whatsoever on it (1).
However, sometimes we make wrong connections, interpretations, use wrong course corrections for the problems that went out of the way and blame science for it.
Human beings and their minds are imperfect. Not the scientific rules that govern this universe.
Some of my doctor friends say you should never use the word 'cure' in medicine. You can only manage health conditions and diseases. You cannot really 'cure' them.
Most of the commonly prescribed conventional drugs treat only symptoms, not the underlying causes of a patient’s disease. This logically leads to a perception that much of modern medicine is about management of chronic disease and prevention of more serious sequelae—not actual cures. All doctors could do was alleviate symptoms and try to prevent more serious sequelae. However, most health care professionals are attracted to medicine with the mission of curing patients leading to the cognitive discord that eventually leads them to integrative/functional medicine. The use of the term cure has been actively discouraged except in limited types of cases, perhaps true health care reform needs to rethink this term and concept (2).
The problem with only treating the symptoms is that the underlying problem continues unabated and is very likely causing many more problems than only the symptoms.
If the symptoms recur when the intervention is stopped, then it is very unlikely to be curative. If you stop taking insulin, you will notice the symptoms of diabetes again.
The interventions actually being used for the vast majority of patients were indeed only palliative. This also made much clearer the centuries-old philosophical conflict between “unconventional” medicine (by its various names) and conventional medicine.
Criteria for Determining Whether a Therapy Is Curative (2)
- Is the patient cured if all that is accomplished is that their symptoms are alleviated?
- Is the intervention causing any adverse effects?
- Do the symptoms recur when the intervention is stopped?
- Does the patient report their general health as improving or getting worse over the course of care?
Alternative medical and mindfulness practitioners say they can 'cure' the underlying conditions. In reality they too can 'manage' them or arrest the damage but cannot fully 'remove' or reverse the damage that has already been done. How can you cure a symptom that originated because of dead or severely damaged brain, kidney or liver cells? How can they cure life-style related cancers like lung cancer originated due to smoking of cigarettes?
Moreover, the biochemistry of each individual is unique. Therefore, you cannot use the same intervention in all the cases and expect a perfect result. Each person should be treated differently depending on his or her biochemistry, genetics, age, gender, microbiome, environmental and other causative factors. We are realising this now. But most of the time this is not followed and doctors use the same method of treatments for everyone. That is where we are failing most of the time.
Medicine as a field will become perfect only when we understand science the right way. Until then we will have to try improving ourselves each day.
Science isn’t imperfect, we are!
Therefore, we use drugs and other interventions knowing fully well that what we use are not perfect but still we use them because the positives of using them are high when compared to the negatives and we can only manage the conditions and diseases and cannot actually cure them and are only trying to prolong the life of a patient as much as possible.