The lost art of physical examination

Issue: BCMJ, vol. 63, No. 3, April 2021, Page 102 Letters

As we rush enthusiastically into the new age of virtual medicine, I am wondering what we are losing. I hear stories of patients receiving a telephoned prescription for penicillin, for a sore throat, unseen and unswabbed. Or for something that “sounds like” bronchitis. Another patient with right upper quadrant discomfort was treated with liver function tests and an ultrasound, but no examination. A tender breast lump? How about mammography plus or minus ultrasound?

I know I’m a dinosaur—a throwback to past generations of family medicine—but I foresee perils. It’s not enough for the MOA at the end of the line to ask, “Do think you need an appointment?” Neither the patient nor the MOA should be held responsible to answer that question. I can only hope that most GP offices are finding better ways of dealing with this issue.
—Lorne Walton, MD
Maple Ridge

Lorne Walton, MD. The lost art of physical examination. BCMJ, Vol. 63, No. 3, April, 2021, Page(s) 102 - Letters.

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