The Fading Art Of The Physical Exam : NPR

I played sports as a kid, and always had to start my school year with a doctor’s physical exam. Apparently that doesn’t happen much anymore.

Doctors are physically examining their patients less and less, and relying more on technology. Some doctors are bucking this trend and trying to revitalize the practice of listening and actually touching their patients.

As a woman, I am still poked and prodded on a semi-regular basis (yuck!), but I’ve never had to go in for something serious, and I’ve heard others complain about this phenomenon. I’m interested what the experience of others has been.

For centuries, doctors diagnosed illness using their own senses, by poking, prodding, looking, listening. From these observations, a skilled doctor can make amazingly accurate inferences about what ails the patient.

Technology has changed that. “We’re now often doing expensive tests, where in the past a physical exam would have given you the same information,” says Jason Wasfy, a cardiologist-in-training at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

As a result, many doctors are abbreviating the time-honored physical exam — or even skipping it altogether.

more at The Fading Art Of The Physical Exam : NPR.