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The Digital Doctor: Hope, Hype, and Harm at the Dawn of Medicine’s Computer Age by Robert Wachter

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Chapter 1On Call

One must confess that whatever his mental and moral deficiencies, and they are certainly great, as a machine, man has no equal.

—Dr. Will Mayo, cofounder of the Mayo Clinic, in 1915

In late June 2003, 27-year-old Matthew Burton began a residency in general surgery in Buffalo, New York. The first year of residency, commonly referred to as the internship, is a rite of passage so colorful, ethically fraught, exhausting, and ennobling that it has served as the backdrop for countless books, television shows, and movies. Among physicians, a surgical internship is considered the most taxing of all, but Burton was ready for it—particularly since he was a “mature” student, having taken a few years between college and medical school to ...

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