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Saturday, December 15, 2012

Look at the patient 101

So I entered a patient room to do an EKG, a procedure that takes a mere 2 minutes to complete , and 45 minutes later I walked out of her room.  I actually had to pry myself from her room because we involved ourselves in a really nice discussion.

She used to be a nurse who worked at Shoreline back in the 1970s.  She reminded me what it was like to be a nurse or respiratory therapist before the age of computers.  I told her that there were many people who were very afraid to make the switch, but there isn't one person who would want to go back.  

There was one doctor who said, "The day they make me enter my orders into a computer I will quit."  Yet that same doctor has computers in his own office now, and he loves it.  He grabs his little computer tablet, enters the patient room, and sits there clicking away on his little mini computer.

The advantages of this system are immense:
  1. Prescriptions are immediately emailed to the pharmacy eliminated the paper trail that can be manipulated by drug seekers.
  2. Easy access to all the patient's past medical records, including recent and past lab results
  3. Notes the doctor left for himself about the patient during past visits
My patient, however, noted one major disadvantages of this computer charting.  She said, "The doctors sometimes spend so much time clicking on their little computer they forget to look at the patient.  It seems to me there is a need for a new class in med school called:  "Look at the patient 101."

She hit the nail on the head.  William Osler is known as the father of modern medicine because he was the first to instill in his medical students the concept of putting your patient first.  He instilled the idea of not just prescribing medicines, but actually listening to and assessing your patient.  

It seems with the advent of computers some doctors have gotten away from "looking at their patients," the patient said.  "You only have a five or ten minute doctor's appointment, and it seems half that time is spent by the doctor clicking.  There have been times I've gone to my doctor and he didn't even touch me."

I found that interesting, because I have made the same observation with my doctor.  What do you guys think?

1 comment:

Quinn said...

I have to preface this by saying I'm a student and that I have only been involved in Respiratory since April. But not once, have I ever seen a Dr. go into a patients room and use a computer. I don't think I can emphasis that enough, not even once, from any doctor, have they done anything except look at the patient. Maybe that's hospital policy at the building I'm at, I don't know, but I know that technology hasn't ruined patient/doctor interactions in all hospitals.