Theoretical Medicine

, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp 305–317 | Cite as

Some aspects of medical ethics from the perspective of bioengineering

  • H. Thoma


The problem of ethics in medical care as seen from the bioengineering results from the almost incredible technological achievements based on scientific research: On the one hand there is inadequate handling of technology and fear on the part of the patient; on the other hand there is admiration on the part of the physicians and the nursing staff. This article will survey the points of criticism concerning ethical behavior and will present and evaluate general problems of mechanization in medical care. General phenomena of human interaction, and especially problems related to medical care, will be discussed. It will be necessary to develop clinical medical technology, aiming primarily at ‘realizing the patient's concern’. After analyzing these concerns, it is necessary for the clinical medical engineer to develop an ‘invisible’ technology. Criteria for such an ‘invisible’ technology (function, design, automatic control, methods of implantation, whether chronic application is necessary) are being demonstrated by particular devices (artifical heart, functional electro-stimulation, diaphragmatic pace-maker).

Key words

Medical ethics Man-machine interaction Clinical medical technology Ethical lapses High technology Intensive care Artificial organs Artificial heart Transplantation 


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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. Thoma
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratory for Biomedical Engineering and Physics, 2nd Surgical ClinicUniversity of ViennaViennaAustria

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