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The Stethoscope Is Not Just a Prop

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by: Jane M. Orient, M.D.

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Stock photos of “healthcare workers” who attend patients—physicians are no longer distinguishable—usually feature a stethoscope draped around the neck.

But some, such as cardiologist Eric Topol, consider the stethoscope obsolete, nothing more than a pair of “rubber tubes.”

The most important part of the stethoscope is the part between the ears. But some think that will be replaced by artificial intelligence, and the rubber tubes by sophisticated electronic gizmos costing at least ten times as much as the humble stethoscope.

High tech is wonderful and increasingly capable, but if the stethoscope is dying, so is the art of clinical medicine.

The proper use of the stethoscope requires the doctor to touch, listen to the patient, and spend some time with a living person, not a computer. Patient and physician must cooperate: “Stop breathing,” “Take a big deep breath,” “Lean forward,” and so on. More

Warning: Government Can Be Harmful to Your Health

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Marilyn M. Singleton, MD, JD., http://www.aapsonline.org/

“In 1989, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)-sponsored study tested an experimental measles vaccine on 1,500 six-month old Black and Hispanic babies in Los Angeles. The CDC admitted in 1996 that parents were never informed that the vaccine was experimental.”

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Trust in our government was a mere 19 percent in 2013 according to Pew Research Center. Not surprisingly, 56 per cent of Americans think it is not the government’s responsibility to provide a healthcare system. Waivers, favors, off-the-cuff rule changes, and the bungled launch of the Affordable Care Act website validate that distrust.  Bureaucratic incompetence and cronyism are not the only reasons we should be wary of government involvement in our medical care.

The federal government has a checkered history when it comes to medical judgments. We now cringe at the words of the revered Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes in the 1927 case, Buck v Bell upholding Virginia’s sterilization law for the institutionalized “feeble-minded.” “[Carrie Bell’s] welfare and that of society will be promoted by her sterilization. It is better for all the world if, instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind. . .Three generations of imbeciles are enough.” In fact, Carrie’s mother was a prostitute, but not feeble-minded. After Carrie’s release she maintained a job as a domestic worker and became an avid reader. Her “feeble-minded” daughter was on her school’s honor roll.

Let’s recall the appalling Tuskegee Syphilis Study lasting from 1932 to 1972.   The U.S. Public Health Service used 400 hundred mainly poor, illiterate black sharecroppers with syphilis as lab animals. They were told they had “bad blood,” but not that they were actually suffering from a serious but treatable disease. All subjects succumbed to untreated syphilis so our government could track the natural progression of the disease. More

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