Simple touch is lacking in a medical field overrun with technology, asserts Stanford Medical School professor and author Abraham Verghese. It's a basic practice lost in the ever evolving field. Often physicians in the West rely heavily on technology like a CAT scan or an MRI to diagnose a patient, rather than first using intuitive touch as a medical practice.
"I'm the first to admit that the resolution of a hand feeling the belly doesn't compare with the resolution of a CAT scan scanning the belly, but only my hand can say that it hurts at this spot and not at this spot. There are nuances to the exam that no machine is going to give you," says Verghese, who has penned two best-selling memoirs.
In today's healthcare system it's normal for a physician to run numerous tests on a patient in order to come to a clear and concise diagnosis. Yet as a result of running numerous tests, physicians are losing a bond with their patients. Verghese aims to help his students not just rely on medical tests, but to awaken an inherent curiosity and use medicine as more of a ministry of healing, and not just science.
"Cutting Stone," is Verghese's fictional bestseller about medicine and fictional doctors that is set at a mission hospital in Ethiopia. The novel seeks to evoke the samaritan role of the healer--a message that Verghese looks to instill in future physicians.
"We short-change the ritual (medicine) by not being attentive, or you are inputting into the computer while the patient's talking to you, you basically are destroying the opportunity for the transformation. And what is a transformation? It's the sealing of the patient-physician bond." Dr. Abraham Verghese
"I joke, but only half-joke, that, if you show up in an American hospital missing a finger, no one will believe you until they get a CAT scan, MRI, and orthopedic consult." Dr. Abraham Verghese
1. What is a physician?
2. Name two tests a physician may use in order to diagnose a patient.
3. What areas of medicine might a physician specialize?
1. According to the video, what skill does Dr. Verghese believe physicians in the West are lacking?
2. In what ways could a physician be more attuned to a patients needs?
3. When you go to see a physician what could he or she do to make you feel more at ease?