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TED Quotes

A doctor's touch

The most important innovation in medicine to come in the next 10 years: the power of the human hand. — Abraham Verghese

Synopsis

Modern medicine is in danger of losing a powerful, old-fashioned tool: human touch. Physician and writer Abraham Verghese describes our strange new world where patients are merely data points, and calls for a return to the traditional one-on-one physical exam. Talk recorded 14 July 2011.

About the Speaker

Before he finished medical school, Abraham Verghese spent a year on the other end of the medical pecking order, as a hospital orderly. Moving unseen through the wards, he saw the patients with new eyes, as human beings rather than collections of illnesses. The experience has informed his work as a doctor - and as a writer. "Imagining the Patient’s Experience" was the motto of the Center for Medical Humanities & Ethics, which he founded at the University of Texas San Antonio, where he brought a deep-seated empathy. He’s now a professor for the Theory and Practice of Medicine at Stanford, where his old-fashioned weekly rounds have inspired a new initiative, the Stanford 25, teaching 25 fundamental physical exam skills and their diagnostic benefits to interns.He’s also a best-selling writer, with two memoirs and a recent novel, Cutting for Stone, a moving story of two Ethiopian brothers bound by medicine and betrayal.

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