Wednesday, 2 April 2008


Touch is a very important element or criteria for a physician. Physician have to touch (general examination, palpation, percussion, auscultation) to know what is wrong with the patient and what kind of diagnosis we should put.

But sad to say we're now living in a 'low touch culture' where we (even many physicians, medical students) are so reluctant to touch. We're scared or anxious that we may be infected with that particular disease, or sickness if we touch the patient, we're scared to do enemas as it's so dirty. Well is this what doctors are suppose to do? just look at the patient from a far without even touching them and then give a diagnosis.

Well, no doubt we must be careful, we can wear gloves and mask ( to protect both doctors and patient), but that does not mean that we should avoid touching patient. Touch is very important as it brings comfort, security, love and care to the patient showing them that we as doctors do care and we're not being a doctor due to higher 'status' or pay.

One thing i learn most from my university is that the nurses and doctors here are not afraid to touch the patients, when we go visit some patient in their wards the doctor (my lecturers), while asking them about their medical history will sit beside them, touch them gently while examining and showing us stuff and at the same time will ask us to touch the patient to feel signs like splenomegamy, hepatomegaly, types of rashes, etc (doesn't matter whether what disease the patient has).

Another time is when i did my attachment back in Malaysia last year during my holidays in KLGH, i was assigned to the medical ward with a small compartment for the infectious disease patient. And there's this doctor in particular (medical consultant) whom i followed, he was not afraid to go in to this infectious compartment with TB patients and to touch them and examined them, and to tell the truth i really respected him and was touched by what he did.

Many times we as medical students are so reluctant to touch them but I'm learning the art of 'touch' as I realizes it's importance day by day. We as doctors or future doctors should realize that we need to touch our patient doesn't matter whether are they dirty or clean; their socioeconomic status, or whatever disease they may have even infectious diseases like TB, Hepatitis, meningococcal infection, skin diseases. We just have to put ourselves into their shoes, how would we feel if our attending physician is not willing to come near us to examine us when we're sickly lying in the hospital bed, it's definitely a depressed and alienated feeling. so would we want our patients to fell that way?


aManda玲慧 said...

truly wish that all of us will learn "the art of touch" and not to be afraid to touch our patients. i am sure most of us want to be a doctor who loves and cares for patients.

h2m said... u~
Touching, a way to examine patient and a sign of caring~
Hope we all can be great doctors who touch the patients and also touch the patients' heart :)