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February 17, 1975

The Humanization of Medicine

JAMA. 1975;231(7):738-739. doi:10.1001/jama.1975.03240190042018

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Medicine is becoming more and more dehumanized as machines and apparatus take over the tasks of diagnosis and therapy. The laboratory, the x-ray, the computer, the various invasive techniques are increasingly important in what we fondly call scientific medicine. As machines encroach more and more on the practice of medicine, we tend to lose sight of the person. The doctor-patient relationship, always the object of lip service, gets obscured in the welter of diagnostic tests. Yet perhaps the very complexity of modern scientific medicine, in a sort of backlash, is serving to focus attention on personal involvement, not merely between doctor and patient, but between doctor and patient and society.

Some problems of the person have in the past few years received considerable attention in the lay and professional press, particularly those problems that we call ethical—abortion, euthanasia, transplantation, human experimentation, genetic engineering, and the like. These topics go far