Friday, September 14, 2007

Consciousness Raising Exercise #32

If you have ever used an ATM machine to deposit a check or withdraw cash, you understand the basic rules on which a computer operates. Unless you key in certain data and commands in their proper sequence, you will not initiate the specific chain of events which is required to deliver money into your hands.
A computer is an extremely democratic device. Whether it runs an ATM machine or a digital dictation system, the computer does not care about how much money you make or what kind of car you drive.
Computers have absolutely no emotional attachment to the data they store and interpret. They do not care whether you are white, black, Asian, Hispanic, male, female or a one-eyed albino transsexual from Greenland. All that matters is whether you have an access code and can enter commands and data appropriately.
A computer's cold and calculating objectivity can sometimes cause problems for a doctor's ego. How so?
  • A physician cannot bully a computer.

  • Nor can he try to impress or intimidate a computer with the fact that he is a doctor.
The next time you use an ATM machine, try to remember that if the person standing next to you has an access code, he has as much power to run the bank's computer as you do. An ATM machine doesn't care whether a customer is a falling-down drunk, a punked-out 16-year-old with a 9-gauge steel ring through his nose, or a physician.
That's a humbling thought. And one that doctors would be well advised to remember when they try telling medical support staff that "it is beneath a doctor's professional dignity to have to enter numbers into a telephone keypad."

Or that doctors should not be expected to enter the patient's medical record number while dictating because "that's a clerical function."

Bottom line? The computer doesn't give a rat's ass about the fact that you are a doctor.
Write a 150-word essay on how a doctor's authority is continually challenged by changes in today's technology.

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