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March 1965

Medical History-Taking.

Arch Intern Med. 1965;115(3):371-372. doi:10.1001/archinte.1965.03860150115036

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Like it or not, medical diagnosis is more a process of elimination than of direct assault. The medical mind parallels the computer; both receive data, associate the data with preprogramed knowledge, weed out what is irrelevant, and come up with the diagnosis or answer that best completes a whole picture from all the bits and pieces thrown into either hopper. The one, important, difference between man and his machine is that the latter cannot read flared nostrils; it cannot calculate clenched, clammy hands; it cannot evaluate a blush; nor can it assign a proper value to a sigh—all of which can be just as important as the phonic information being offered as the medical history. Thus, the success of any physician depends most on his skill in gathering pertinent information, and no ability acquired during a doctor's training and experience will ever substitute for failure to communicate with a patient.

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