KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

As Doctors Rely On Technology, Physical Exams Often Neglected

NPR examined "the dying art of the physical exam" in its Monday morning health segment. Because of technology, "many doctors are abbreviating the time-honored physical exam – or even skipping it altogether. ... And it appears the trend is likely to get worse. ... At Stanford Medical School, professor Abraham Verghese is leading the charge to restore the physical exam to what he considers its rightful place, and bring doctors' skills 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.' Verghese says it's as though the output of machines is the only information that counts. ... At Stanford, they're trying to reverse the trend. The school's graduates and trainees have to master 25 different bedside exam skills, from palpating a spleen to testing ankle reflexes" (Knox, 9/20). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.