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Doctors: Too Dependent on Medical Technology?

A physician in a recent New York Times article lamented the current lack of more intimate doctor-patient relationships, and their replacement by technology-driven diagnoses. Our medical facilities might have the latest imaging devices and computer programs, but the human element is sometimes lost, and patients may be suffering as a result.

American hospitals and physicians are among the best in the world, and patient care and safety has always been a priority. Medical students and interns are trained on the newest advances in diagnosing illnesses with the latest technology that can quickly diagnose a patient’s condition and recommend tests and medications.

While medical advancement should be encouraged, one of the best ways provide treatment is the old and time-honored method of taking the time to talk to the patient and performing a hands-on examination. The doctor in the New York Times article sees it as an important function too many heath care providers are ignoring while supporting the inputting of data into a computer, asking perfunctory and impersonal questions, and neglecting the human element that might prove more efficient in diagnosing and treating illnesses.

For example, technology like CT Scans may be extremely useful in some situations, but there is always the chance that scans can be misread and lead to a misdiagnosis. Sometimes the most obvious signs are missed. A routine and thorough physical examination by a physician is still a necessary and valuable step in arriving at a correct diagnosis and treatment plan.

Although physicians should use technology when appropriate, it should not be a substitute for performing a thorough examination and spending time to speak with a patient about their unique situation.