Samuel Shem, 34 Years After “The House of God”

Samuel Shem wrote under a pseudonym about the cruelty in medical training. This is what he wrote recently, in The Atlantic, about computers in the exam room:

One of the worries in how the new generation of doctors practice medicine is their use of computers. If you have a laptop or smart phone between you and your patient, you are much less likely to create a good, mutual connection. You will miss the subtle signs of the history, of the person. With a screen between you, there is no chance for mutuality, and the connection has qualities of distance, coolness, rank, authority, and even disinterest. The “smart” digital appendages can make you, in human-connection terms, a “dumb” doctor.

This, as more and more studies suggest, can lead — hand in hand with the tyranny of algorithms and other “quality/efficiency/cost-containers” — to more tests, more errors and medical mistakes, lower quality care, and higher costs to all.

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