Intended for healthcare professionals

Views & Reviews From the Frontline

What is the point of doctors?

BMJ 2013; 347 doi: (Published 10 December 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f7380
  1. Des Spence, general practitioner, Glasgow
  1. destwo{at}

Back in the day we had limited investigations: no computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, positron emission tomography, endoscopic surgery, or gene probes. Even ultrasound was a new and limited modality. We had just a few basic blood tests, insensitive isotope scans, and useless props, like the stethoscope, tendon hammers, and tuning forks. The all powerful bespectacled doctor issued medical opinion based on (often considerable) clinical experience. But technology banished experience, and evidence based medicine pecked the last flesh from the bones of medical opinion. Scientific …

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