The word “innovation” refers to the act or process of introducing new ideas, devices, or methods or to the new ideas, devices, or methods themselves. The term is often evoked as an imperative to drive growth, health, and happiness in the medical field. Medical innovation has contributed enormously to the improvement of the health of the American people, especially to the increase in life expectancy over the past 50 years. The biomedical field is ambitious in the pursuit of new medicine, therapies, medical devices, technologies, and diagnostic tools that will be used to treat and cure a myriad of illnesses. We have progressed in the medical field by exponential proportions from the first successful organ transplant in 1954 to currently facing the nearing possibility of a head transplant. But as the innovations increase, so do the ethical considerations, as technology follows a pattern, going from novel, to ordinary, to expected. Because of this we find that the nature of medical innovation is multifaceted, having multiple dimensions and seen through multiple perspectives, an unexpected attribute to the fields of science and technology. With each development we face ethical implications that beg the question of whether or not our “tools of care” will outweigh our “tools of caring.”
In studying the innovative field of bioethics, we asked many questions. What does it mean to be a good doctor? What are the potential effects of medical innovation on religion? How do medical innovations shape a person’s identity? How do medical innovations complicate or improve the end of life decision-making process? What rights do artificial life deserve? What is the difference between enhancement and therapy? When do medical innovations cross the line between harmful and helpful? Finally, how do these technologies put us to the test when deciding between ideals? We as a community must begin to address these questions since these medical innovations will soon become a part of our daily lives.