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January 2006

The Clinical Image: Archiving Clinical Processes and an Entire Specialty

Arch Dermatol. 2006;142(1):96-98. doi:10.1001/archderm.142.1.96

Dermatology is the most visually oriented field of medicine. In a specialty that relies so heavily on inspection, it is nearly a crime to reduce a tool such as clinical photography into mere “snapshots.” In contrast, we should strive to display only the highest quality images in our literature and in presentations to our colleagues.

Clinical photographs are a powerful way to record images for ourselves and to communicate with our peers. These images are commonly used for record keeping, comparison of clinical process over time, teaching, and consultation. For the field of dermatology, the tools used to record these images are one of our most valuable assets. Early in the history of medicine, recording of visual data was done by hand. Over time, these drawings and paintings were superseded by the advent of photography.

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