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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 5Strangers at the Bedside

At first sight, the medical record seems a mere re-enactment of time: tables listing past measurements; pages and pages of notes of meetings and examinations… . Yet it is a mistake … to conceptualize the record as a more or less adequate representation of events. By being part and parcel of the activity of transforming a patient’s problem into a manageable problem, by functioning as a structured distributor and collector of work activities, the record is actively involved in shaping the very events it “represents.”

—Marc Berg, Dutch physician and medical sociologist, 1996

The dawn of the twentieth century found the medical profession in a terrible state. Medical education was a hodgepodge, most therapies had ...

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