Anonymous
Anonymous asked in Science & MathematicsMedicine · 1 decade ago

Can doctors (not surgeons) ever be replaced by computers?

A doctor's job basically consists of deciding what medicine to prescribe given a specific set of symptoms. A computer with a database of symptoms specific to a disease can be used to narrow down what ailment one may have and decide what medicine to prescribe. All that would need to be done is a physical examination, which a doctor doesn't really need to do, and all the findings can be input into a computer. Can this ever be done? I heart you.

Update:

Meaning a nurse can perform a physical examination.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
    Favourite answer

    Neural networks have made some limited headway in specific situations, and in theory, it's possible, but not in the forseeable future. It actually has less to do with the doctor than with the patient. The patient with a complete, concise and sensible history is a rare bird indeed, and history-taking is a lot more art than you might imagine.

    Computers would still be OK, if tedious, if the diseases played by the rules, but common illnesses often masquerade as uncommon ones, and vice versa. It would take one heck of a computer program to diagnose gonorrhea based on a few red bumps on the skin in the fingerwebs (I've done this more than once). Just yesterday, a mother was worried about her child's rash. He'd been treated with antibiotics for a sore throat. I looked at and felt the rash, and my first question was whether he'd had diarrhea in the previous few days. Bingo. Viral exanthem, easy for a human, cumbersome for a computer program.

    Prescriptions are a lot less a part of the process than you think. That could be left to software once the diagnosis is clear.

    More important is a description of what to expect. Many hospitals use computer-generated discharge instructions in their emergency departments, as an example. They tend to print out several pages that nobody reads. We know you're only going to hear about one word in five, and doctors are pretty good at getting across most of the major points individualized to the patient. Give us highly educated, literate, curious patients who think clearly when they're ill and stressed, and we'll write computer programs that do this better. Already one of the big problems with health care in the US is that insurers think the way you do, and that makes them think doctors should/could be "more efficient." Twenty years ago, family physicians were trained with the expectation they'd treat three or four patients per hour. Now they're expected to see six. How do you get fifteen minutes' conversation into ten minutes? I'd argue the human factor is much more important than the part that can be written in code.

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  • 1 decade ago

    No, a doctor's job is more than just prescribing medicine for a specific problem. It is using a skill developed over time to take medical symptoms and turn out a problem.

    A computer could NEVER look at a person and say, "Wow. Your skin is yellow." or "Yes, your eye is pink." or "You've been tired?"

    A doctor DOES need to do a physical examination. You're assuming all medical problems can be cured by a pill and diagonsed by plugging in what's wrong. It doesn't work like that.

    It's like selling a house on "for sale by owner" because what I call an island isn't what someone else calls an island. How many people are confused by common medical terms? Oh yeah...a lot of people.

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  • 1 decade ago

    short answer is no.

    you even said that the information has to be inputted into the computer. whos going to do that? a docotor. and yes physical examinations are necessary which a computer can not do. docotors will always be in demand. machines however, nanobots and other nanotechnology tools will replace the scaples and other tools needed for surgery because nanobots will be able to perform sugrey without scarring or anyother damage but it will be the job of the doctors to choose which nanobot type will be needed for the job, make sure everything is going correctly etc.

    there will always be the need of a doctors eye and opinian in the medical field.

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  • 1 decade ago

    In Asheville, NC., at Mission Hospital they are using robotic surgeons all ready. This is a small city with excellent references for this hospital so I imagine other bigger well known hospitals have had this for a lot longer. I saw it on the local news about 6 months ago and it blew me away. The M.D.s replaced soon. will be if not entirely almost

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Doctors, at least here in the USA do not "doctor" any more, they farm a patient out for all kinds of diagnostic tests because they are scared to death of law suits and rightflly so....everybody here sues.....it is a nasty litigeous society and there is no end in sight to it. Lawyers, (less educated bottom feeders) make more money on the average per year than Drs........go figure.

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  • mcd
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    Why exempt surgeons? I imagine surgeons can be replaced by robots before doctors can be completely replaced by computers. Surgery is much more routine than diagnosis. There have been attempts to develop "expert systems" in diagnosis.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Show me a computer that has "clinical judgement" and "insight" and can integrate the patient's symptoms with his/her history and life experiences, and then we'll discuss it.

    Medicine is a blend of art and science. Sometimes it's how a patient presents his/her symptoms that give us clues. Sometimes it's what they *don't* say.

    Source(s): I'm a doctor.
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  • 1 decade ago

    I understand totally what you mean, i dont kno y other people have to be so retarded. But no. I believe they will always need human surgeons to perform on people however there are certain things that need lazers and other fine machinery to get in to certain places to work, but its hard to say, bc the medical feild grows so much. But i believe they will always need us.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    In time maybe. Probably about the same time computers replace vehicle mechanics, plummers, AC techincians and few others.

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  • 1 decade ago

    I heart you too!

    It sounds good on paper, but will computers be able to copy human emotion and expression as well as their creator? Sometimes its just that that can save another's life.

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