Touch in the News: The Fading Art of the Physical Exam, from NPR

It’s been quite a while since the medical aspects of touch have been featured here. Catching up, this post is about a dean of American physician-writers who was quoted in an NPR feature:

At Stanford Medical School, physician/professor/best-selling author (of Cutting for Stone) Abraham Verghese is leading the charge to restore the physical exam to what he considers its rightful place, and bring doctors’ skill up to snuff.

“I sometimes joke that if you come to our hospital missing a finger, no one will believe you until we get a CAT scan, an MRI and an orthopedic consult,” Verghese says. “We just don’t trust our senses.”

Here’s the whole story from NPR (with a  4 minute sound bite for audiophiles)  about the decline of physicians’  skill on physical exams.

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4 Responses to Touch in the News: The Fading Art of the Physical Exam, from NPR

  1. Stef says:

    I heard that story on NPR many months ago when it aired; it was interesting…

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    • Touch2Touch says:

      I’m really late getting that one out there. Abraham Verghese is an extremely interesting man, writer, physician — you name it. He is so aware of the personal, values so much the listening and the touching and the empathy — you imagine he’d be great as your primary care physician!

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  2. mercy says:

    He’s a great story-teller – I read his book ‘Cutting for stone’ which has such a sense of drama and passion about his profession! – but his own story is so dramatic – left med school in ethiopia half way through their revolution, migrated to US along with his parents, going into survival mode worked in hospitals as a menial when he got an epiphany about getting back to his original dream of becoming a dr., and went and finished his degree from one of the most elite med schools in his native india…since then worked a decade-plus with AIDS patients in Tennessee, or someplace south…all the while harboring a passion for writing like, Somerset Maugham (doctor-writer) his professed hero!
    So much in a single lifetime!

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    • Touch2Touch says:

      The first book he wrote about the AIDS epidemic is My Own Country, and while not a bestseller like the later novel, made already clear that here was a gifted writer.
      A true Renaissance man!
      Thanks so much for the capsule biography, I didn’t know all of this.

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