The Focus on Thyroid Lab Test Results is Failing Patients

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The Way Thyroid Used to Work – 1960s & Earlier

I am sixty years of age now. When I was very young, if I ever got ill, my mother would take me to our family doctor.  We sometimes had to wait a while to see him because some patients would be in his consultation room much longer than others. He would listen to what my symptoms were and then examine me. During the whole time his attention was on what my mother was saying to him and on me, the young patient in front of him. It always felt like we had his undivided attention. It felt reassuring. I still remember this very clearly.

Our family doctor very occasionally ran some lab tests, but this was a very rare occurrence. Lab tests were less frequently used then and they took far longer to return from a laboratory.  The reader may think that this was a big negative but I actually do not. The focus back then was on symptoms of the patient; it was on clinical assessment of the possible conditions or illnesses that the patient might have. This is how doctors worked. Simply because laboratory tests were not so easy to do, the doctors worked hard on understanding the clinical presentation of the patient. The skills of doctors were honed through diagnostic work – because that was the only practical way to do it.