Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews

No to medical computers

An Israeli health fund has a new app to replace Dr. Google  – so to speak: there is no MD Google. I’m completely against it.

My father, a very able diagnostician, from way before the Internet, already was completely opposed to patients trying to diagnose themselves by checking medical encyclopedia. “They’ll do from a printing error,” he used to grumble. We were riding a highway when he told me: This viaduct, no one is going to tell the engineer who designed it that he did a bad job. The guy learned for it. But if a physician comes with a diagnosis, everyone has an opinion and advice.

There are more reasons not to let computers have too big a say on if we’re going to see a doctor. My father again: One of the most difficult things of the profession is that the patients have not read the books that should tell them what symptoms they need to show. That is a funny, roundabout way of saying: no patient is a stereotypical case.

As medical student I saw another reason to prefer a medical brain over a pc. Every person with a low continuous fever must be suspected of tuberculosis. The reason is that this is a sickness that can be healed completely but if you forget this diagnosis people may die from it. Overlooking a fatal disease is not so bad. But you should not miss a curable disease that when missed will be lethal. However, it doesn’t work to have a computer say at every persistent light fever: perhaps tuberculosis. That becomes a dead letter. It has to be something in back of one’s mind. But a computer has no back of its mind.

As a medical student, I also once saw a very complicated case of a patient with symptoms that seemed to have no relationship. They were at three different places of the body in different organ systems. After two hours, I knew. There is an illness that can give 18 different sorts of systems that are not related in any way. Most patients have a couple. Then it became clear to me that a computer can’t help here. A computer must find correlations. But the diagnosis here was based on: 1. A lack of correlations; and 2: Not finding anything else. When you get tired, you can think: what if there is no correlation? A Computer can’t think that.

Last but not least, a medical diagnostic device has the same problems as a doctor in the family. It is easy to over-diagnose from too much worry (going to tests for no reason) and to under-diagnose from rationalizing fears away (desisting from medical investigation while one should).

Just go see you doc. Only don’t believe just anything she says. She’s only human too. And tell her if it doesn’t make sense. She’ll think again.

About the Author
To subscribe to his daily blog posts, click on the circle next to the blogger's picture, containing a dot with two quarter circles around it (the Feed Computer icon). * The author is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (DES - Diethylstilbestrol), born in 1953 to two Dutch survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork, and holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam). He taught Re-evaluation Co-counseling, became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a vegan for 8 years now. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. * His most influential teachers (chronologically) are: his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach and lehavdiel bein chayim lechayim: Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff and Rav Meir Lubin. * Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years he wrote hasbara for the Dutch public. His fields of attention now are varied: Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science, Politics (Israel, the US and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight Truth), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, GLBTQAI, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation), Ecology and Veganism. Sometimes he's misunderstood because he has such a wide vision that never fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what many love about him. Many of his posts relate to affairs from the news or the Torah Portion of the Week or are new insights that suddenly befell him. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, reassure the doubters but make the self-assured doubt more. He strives to bring a fresh perspective rather than bore you with the obvious. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds must be disputed. In short, his main political positions are: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, democracy, anti the fake peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, Science, Free Will, anti blaming-the-victim and for down-to-earth optimism. Read his blog how he attempts to bridge any discrepancies. He admits sometimes exaggerating to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quit a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * His writing has been made possible by an allowance for second generation Holocaust survivors from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. November 13, 2018, he published his 500st blog post with the ToI. * He likes doing age-appropriate and age-inappropriate things and looks forward to getting to know his timeless mature out-of-the-box soul mate. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me.
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