Blog | Wednesday, May 8, 2013

We need more "old fashioned" doctors


Recently at dinner a pediatric nurse practitioner made a comment that we need more "old fashioned" physicians. What did she mean? She went on to opine that most physicians now do not spend enough time with patients. They shortchange the history and physical and rely mostly on tests.

Recently I have seen the GE ad about technology too many times. This ad plays on technology being the answer to medical care. This ad unfortunately influences our population to expect technology answers to every medical problem.

I do not consider myself a Luddite. But I believe technology is a tool not an answer.

Once upon a time we had Marcus Welby, MD. We valued the kind physician, the concerned physician, the patient physician.

We really do need physicians who take the time to understand their patients. During the ACP Internal Medicine 2013 meeting, Abraham Verghese, MD, spoke to the ACP Governors and Regents. He talked about his writing and about understanding our patients. As always he stressed spending the time to know our patients and understand them.

When we try to rush the process, the patient suffers. When we take short cuts with technology, we rarely help the patient.

Spending time with patients should not be considered "old fashioned." Using technology sparingly should not be considered "old fashioned."

I do not know how we get back to the ideal of the physician patient relationship, but I know that we should.

db is the nickname for Robert M. Centor, MD, FACP. db stands both for Dr. Bob and da boss. He is an academic general internist at the University of Alabama School of Medicine, and is the Associate Dean for the Huntsville Regional Medical Campus of UASOM. He also serves as a frequent ward attending at the Birmingham VA Hospital. This post originally appeared at his blog, db's Medical Rants.