I want my doctor's hands all over me ... and so should you.
Maybe I should clarify. My doctor's a very nice-looking woman and everything, but what I am talking about here is getting a simple physical exam.
Doctors increasingly are relying on computer modeling and high-tech tests to make diagnoses, instead of actually physically examining patients. That's all well and good, but some maladies are just not really obvious without a physical exam.
I've got a good, smart doctor, but I was in her office today for a follow-up appointment for a skin infection and actually had to ask her to look at it to make sure it was healing okay.
There are pros and cons to this "no-touching" phenomenon. Here they are:
1. An examination can pick up on something I might not realize is going on. Serious stuff, like lung cancer or a leaky heart valve, can be detected by simply listening with a stethoscope.
2. People don't always report their symptoms clearly or accurately. Pain is notoriously hard to describe, which can make it hard for a doctor to diagnose anything without actually looking you over.
3. Dr. Google. How often have you walked into the doctor's office convinced, thanks to frantic Googling, that you know exactly what you have when in fact you have something else? Doctors need to actually examine you to see if your flesh-eating bacteria is actually just a nasty mosquito bite.
1. Technology can be more reliable than human intuition, sometimes. Some things are pretty simply diagnosed, but some aren't, and it's better to have someone at least check their own theory with a test or computer model.
2. Some people really, really don't like virtual strangers getting all up in their business, and avoid the doctor because of it. If knowing they're less likely to be messed with brings people into the office to check out a problem sooner, so much the better.
3. Germs. Most doctors are very conscientious about washing their hands between patients, but it's still really easy to spread infection when you're touching patients repeatedly.
Does your doctor still examine you regularly? Do you care?
Image via Lauren Nelson/Flickr