Doctors are lazy. That’s a brazen, derogatory, declaration that contradicts the usual lofty public image of physicians. We are perceived to be hard-working, dedicated and long-suffering individuals who care only about improving and maintaining the health of our patients. But I contend because of anecdotes shared by my patients and from personal experience, doctors seemingly do everything we can to avoid close interaction with the people we are Hippocratically obligated to serve. We simply have gotten complacent about our role and the importance of meaningful interaction with patients and choose to keep people at arm’s length. Sometimes we don’t even see the patient.
During the nearly 40 years I practiced family medicine, not a week went by when a patient didn’t tell me about their experience with other physicians. “You know doc, he wasn’t in the room five minutes.” Or, “he never examined me” What? A physical exam is one of the basic components required for the determination of a diagnosis, and it was omitted?
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I know the physical exam takes time; you might have to wait for the patient to get undressed, or you might have to put on exam gloves. But that exam often provides surprisingly important information you would have otherwise missed. Atrial fibrillation, hepatomegaly, melanoma, DVT, pleural effusion, and murmurs are just a few of the problems easily detected by taking the time to examine the patient. So come on docs, let’s do our job. Examine your patients. They depend on us to do right by them.