Hospice Care Summary

1. Hospice care saves insurers money, partly by shifting the cost of care to family members. Terminally ill patients who enter hospices typically live longer and experience a higher quality of life than do those who continue with medical care.

2. Most Americans still receive most of their health care at home, typically from female family members. The physical and emotional strains of caregiving have led to the development of respite care, paid home caregivers, and family leave programs.

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3. Technology refers to any human-made object used to perform a task, from Band-Aids to kidney dialysis machines. Technology is never inherently good or bad. Its nature determines the range of ways it might be used, but whether it is harmful, helpful, or both depends on who uses it in which ways.

4. The social construction of technology refers to the political process through which groups decide which potential technologies should be pursued and which should be adopted. This process reflects the needs, desires, and relative power of various social groups, including manufacturers, doctors, and consumers.

5. CPR was designed to restore life to those whose hearts and lungs have stopped. It is almost never successful but has been widely adopted because it helps families come to terms with sudden death, manufacturers have a vested interest in promoting it, and the government never required manufacturers to prove its effectiveness.

6. The technological imperative refers to the belief among both doctors and consumers that technology is almost always good and therefore it is almost always appropriate to use all existing technological interventions, regardless of their cost.

7. Because most men develop prostate cancer but few experience any related health problems, increased testing for this disease has led to skyrocketing rates of medical procedures and increased health problems, but no increase in survival rates. The identification of men with the earliest stage of prostate cancer is an example of pseudodisease, and the treatment of these men is an example of the technological imperative.

8. Partly because of new technologies, medical care is now far less “hands on,” results from medical tests are now often given more credence than patient reports of their symptoms, many tasks have shifted from doctors to new health care providers, and many tasks have shifted from health care providers onto patients and their families.


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