Diagnosis is the very foundation of medical care. Without an accurate diagnosis, doctors have no way of determining the appropriate treatment.
Decades ago, doctors used to rely heavily on the patient’s account of her problem (called the “history”) and the doctor’s direct physical examination of the patient. Medical students still learn these skills, but in practice many physicians order images without conducting a thorough physical exam. What factors are behind this trend? What are the consequences? We talk with Dr. Abraham Verghese about the art of diagnosis and how the process can sometimes go awry.
The Physical Exam:
The ritual of the physical exam also establishes the human connection between doctor and patient as one focused on healing, even when a cure is not possible. Has medicine become too focused on quantitative measures and standardization? Find out how over-reliance on high technology might be reversed and whether the culture of bedside medicine can be revived.
This Week’s Guest:
Abraham Verghese, MD, MACP, Senior Associate Chair and Professor for the Theory and Practice of Medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine. His books include My Own Country: A Doctor’s Story, The Tennis Partner and a novel, Cutting for Stone. Dr. Verghese is online http://www.abrahamverghese.com/
Learn more about the Stanford University Medical School program he leads at http://stanfordmedicine25.stanford.edu/
The photo of Dr. Verghese is by Sean Nolan.
Listen to the Podcast:
The podcast of this program will be available the Monday after the broadcast date. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free for four weeks after the date of broadcast. After that time has passed, digital downloads are available for $2.99. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99.