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Article
November 1990

Proliferation of Paperwork in Medicine: Who Is the Real Culprit?

Arch Intern Med. 1990;150(11):2253. doi:10.1001/archinte.1990.00390220015004

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Abstract

They are creatures of our recent past but it is almost impossible to imagine life without them. In less than a quarter of a century, they penetrated our workplace, settled in, established roots, and began to dominate our professional lives. The invasion has been so complete, the domination so total, that it resembles the spread of cancer cells. Unfortunately, the outcome may well be as perilous. We finally may succumb under the weight of letters, memos, laboratory slips, and directions of one sort or other. The enemy, of course, is the omnipresent copying machine.

Let us take a look at life in the carbon copy days. Community physicians, away from the bureaucracy and paperwork it entailed, had time to listen to, and talk with, their patients. At medical schools the professors prepared formal lectures and informal talks during which they imparted knowledge to the students and junior staff. The younger

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