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June 1979

Mechanized History-Taking

Author Affiliations

Providence, RI

Arch Intern Med. 1979;139(6):714. doi:10.1001/archinte.1979.03630430090034

To the Editor.—  The article by Friedman et al in the Archives (138:1359-1361, 1978) describing an automated verbal medical history system raises some important ethical questions regarding the physician-patient relationship.Clearly, the need for such a device is in doubt. The authors state that the rationale for this technique is to "relieve the overburdened physician from some of the routine aspects of medical care delivery." History-taking is not a routine aspect of medical care and, should it tax the already "overburdened" physician, then I suggest that his practice be curtailed rather than mechanized.Fortunately, such automation has not been accepted in the past and I suggest that this new system also will be rejected. Making the system more efficient and easily accessible will not improve its acceptance, because it is the concept of mechanized historytaking that should alienate physicians. Many diagnoses must have been aided by hearing the patient's throaty

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