|LETTER TO EDITOR
|Year : 2020 | Volume
| Issue : 3 | Page : 610
COVID-19 pandemic: Another nail in the coffin of the “dying art” of the physical examination
Thirunavukkarasu Arun Babu1, Vijayan Sharmila2
1 Department of Pediatrics, AIIMS, Mangalagiri, Andhra Pradesh, India
2 Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, AIIMS, Mangalagiri, Andhra Pradesh, India
|Date of Submission||10-Aug-2020|
|Date of Decision||14-Aug-2020|
|Date of Acceptance||15-Aug-2020|
|Date of Web Publication||19-Sep-2020|
Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, AIIMS, Mangalagiri, Andhra Pradesh
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
|How to cite this article:|
Babu TA, Sharmila V. COVID-19 pandemic: Another nail in the coffin of the “dying art” of the physical examination. Cancer Res Stat Treat 2020;3:610
|How to cite this URL:|
Babu TA, Sharmila V. COVID-19 pandemic: Another nail in the coffin of the “dying art” of the physical examination. Cancer Res Stat Treat [serial online] 2020 [cited 2020 Oct 21];3:610. Available from: https://www.crstonline.com/text.asp?2020/3/3/610/295517
History taking, physical examination, and investigations have been the three main pillars of the medical evaluation of patients since ancient times. A good clinician can arrive at the correct diagnosis in the majority of cases merely by taking the history and performing a physical examination, even before conducting investigations. Although detailed history taking is still widely practiced, there has been a significant decline in the utility of the physical examination in the last two decades. This has resulted from the advancement in science and technology that has led to a surge of several sophisticated investigations that can be performed rapidly and accurately. Doctors have now become increasingly dependent on blood investigations and imaging modalities such as ultrasonography, computed tomography, and magnetic resonance imaging to diagnose and treat patients. Physical examination has already been replaced with investigational tools in several clinical settings and is now rightly referred to as a “dying art.” The dependence on technology has led to a decline in the clinical skill set among medical professionals. The ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is yet another nail in the coffin of the already dying art of the physical examination. Telemedicine has revolutionized the field of health care during this pandemic, and medical consultations have transformed from “in-person” to virtual visits to contain the spread of the pandemic. Doctors are advised to optimize the use of telephone technologies to communicate with patients. With telemedicine, the major elements of the medical evaluation, namely history taking and performing investigations, remain the same, except for the physical examination component, which cannot be performed without physical contact with the patient. As physical examination is considered a “high-risk exposure” for the spread of infection, health-care providers have almost dropped the component of physical examination of patients and prefer to evaluate them with a standard set of investigations aimed at understanding the clinical condition and to arrive at a diagnosis. The lack of a physical examination can have grave consequences, such as missing or delaying the diagnosis in all branches of medicine and surgery. For instance, carcinomas of the cervix and oral cavity require mandatory physical examination for arriving at an accurate clinical diagnosis. In addition, medical schools have started virtual medical training, making it difficult for students to learn and perform physical examination, thereby compromising the acquisition of the skill set that is already shrinking.,, The COVID-19 pandemic has sidelined the physical examination component of the medical evaluation, and only time will tell the effects of this significant change in the provision of health care caused by the pandemic.
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Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
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