Friday, December 13, 2013

347: AF Healthcare

ENTRY 347: AF Healthcare

"Every transhuman is their own physician."
- LGM of Mars

"Hold on, let me check MeshMD."
- Earl Boutain

Not everyone can take a trip into the nanobath every time they get a cut or a sniffle, but most habitats and transhumans recognize the need for general, preventative, and emergency care. The exact form of that care and what's available depends largely on the resources available: larger and more established habitats tend to have dedicated on-call medical facilities subsidized by hypercorps or political bodies, staffed by physicians who have passed through a formal course of instruction supplemented by practical experience, and supported by trained nurses, medical technicians, and specialists. Smaller habitats make do with what they have - often little more than a dedicated nurse with a Mesh-based education and certification (or skillwires) with locally 3D-printed tools, and probably an agreement with to wave fees and restrictions so that traveling physicians can farcast in to deal with emergencies beyond local capabilities. Anarchist and Autonomist habitats rarely even have medical farcast agreements in place, relying on Mesh-based medical knowledge and expert systems to diagnose and treat injuries and illnesses to the best of their ability.

Most transhumans out on the Rim trust the calm, reassuring voice of their medkit over the confusion of Mesh-based medical databases, though in reality the medkit expert system is often based off of and regularly updates from the sprawling, discipline-jumping wikis which touch on everything from chemistry to medical engineering to genehacking to psychology. In the Main Belt, where miners and prospectors are often alone for months on end with very limited supplies and regularly deal with vacuum-walks and high explosives, most habitats keep live medical personnel on-hand at the communication stations to give advice and opinions, perform virtual triage, and to help direct potentially lethal injuries to the nearest station or habitat. Prospector hypercorps that operate in the Belt recognize medical necessity as one of the few legitimate reasons to ransack remote or currently-uninhabitated facilities, and most have signed the Reciprocal Emergency Medical Agreement that forces hypercorp employees to lend aid and assistance in medical emergencies under most circumstances.

While most transhumans think of healthcare in terms of medical emergencies or life events, the most pressing issue for most habitats is the ongoing management of infectious disease, which in the relatively high-radiation, high population density habitats tend to spread and mutate quickly. Traditional antibacterial agents produced by natural or genegineered micro-organisms tend to be as scarce as natural food; most habitats rely on synthetic antibacterial compounds that they can manufacture locally - and even then, habitats are regularly ravaged by antibiotic-resistant superbugs, which are usually only kept in control by counter nanoinfections and smart viruses. Animal, plant, and even some mineral-based medicines too are relatively rare, though genehackers with a philanthropic bent have made some progress in publishing open-source gene sequences to produce certain substances, with instructions on how to work them into common workhorse bacteria or drug glands.

Using AF Healthcare

This brief article barely scratches the surface of an ocean that is as deep as you desire it to be; the gist is that healthcare in Eclipse Phase is varied and limited by local restraints - often medical knowledge is in good supply, but medical experience and many common medicines of today are relatively scarce. On the other hand, in the face of extreme need transhumanity has applied their greater technology to the task, so that in the event of medical emergencies a habitat could literally download a doctor into a waiting morph (or have medical staff fork themselves repeatedly to deal with a sudden rush in demand), a surgeon on Luna can operate a surgical pod on Titan, and even in a Brinker stronghold you can download a step-by-step guide on how to facilitate the birth of a transhuman baby through the Mesh. The emergencies are good fodder for adventures, or for when the PCs themselves get hurt and need treatment, but for most transhumans though, healthcare is not about treating beam weapon burns, bullet holes, and slight explosive decompression - it's getting a drug gland that looks like a third nipple but releases anti-migraine medications, figuring out whether the growths on their back indicate it's time to upgrade the radiation shielding, check-ups for micronutrient deficiencies, and all the other regular day-to-day stuff of life. Background, in other words, but potentially important background that can be used to heighten tension in some scenes, or provide solutions when the PCs think they're out of options.

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