The privilege of being at a patient’s bedside

The bedside exam has become increasingly irrelevant, as technology and tests have largely supplanted physical diagnosis skills.

Pauline Chen interviews Stanford’s Abraham Verghese, who also wrote last year’s excellent NEJM piece on the demise of the physical exam, and he provides some provocative insight.

Dr. Verghese calls the physical exam “an important ritual” that still matters to patients. “If as a doctor you shortchange the ritual, you end up making patients feel you aren’t interested. They lose trust.”

And for those who still aren’t convinced by that argument, consider this: “We could inaugurate the president by an e-mail from the Chief Justice, but there’s a reason we have an inauguration.”

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