Electronic Records’ Toll

I read Samuel Shem’s Perspective (“Doctors Are Burning Out, and It’s Hurting Patients,” February 9) with great interest. I have experienced this new paradigm when visiting the doctor: some no longer touch the patient — they walk around with a computer open, then set it on an exam table and stare at the screen while asking you questions. Just like so much of modern life, technology is changing the way we approach one another, and it is not an improvement!

Virginia Whitehead, Grass Valley, California

It really frosts my buns, this recent spate of articles on how the electronic health record is contributing to the dehumanization of doctors’ interactions with patients. Nurses have been saying the same thing, for the same reasons, and leaving the bedside because of it for years. Now that it’s doctors, though, it’s a “thing” to be heeded and deplored. Or is it a corollary to one of the Fat Man’s [from Shem’s book The House of God] laws that I quote often: “If you don’t take a temperature, you can’t find a fever.” Nobody has wanted to take nursing’s temperature for years. But by all means, let’s check the doctors.


Wendie Howland, RN, Pocasset