Personal Views

Less of a craft, more of a science

BMJ 1997; 315 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.315.7118.1316 (Published 15 November 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;315:1316
  1. Paul Berry, general practitioner
  1. Beccles, Suffolk

    As I was about to leave the room my computer, Frank, said, “Have you got a moment to check your blood pressure, Paul?”

    I glanced at my watch. “Yeah, just about.” I found the electronic sphygmomanometer and took a reading. “One hundred and fifty over one hundred.”

    After a second the machine spoke again. “I've put your readings and laboratory test results into the protocol, and the advice is that you should start on some medication for your blood pressure.”

    I had expected this. All my readings had been around this level, but I had hoped that my low lipids and the fact that I was a non-smoker would let me off the hook. I had already decided to do what the protocol suggested. After all, it was one of the best researched of the constantly updated protocols lodged in the University of Maryland computer. These gold standards had been available to anyone, medical or lay, machine or human, over the past 20 years. They meant that people like myself, a fibreoptic cable technician, could bypass doctors to a large extent and manage their own conditions.

    “OK, I'll …

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