Detecting Diagnoses

The critical diagnosis scholar is travelling, which explains her silence. However, she’s been thinking about check ups, and their cultural situatedness in relation to diagnosis.

The idea of an annual check up is one which she has been thinking about. In her home country of New Zealand, she doesn’t hear about them, but her sisters in the US talk about check-ups: something she remembers from her past. Check-ups, as this article above reminds us were initially endorsed by the American Medical Association almost 100 years ago. The “periodic medical examinations of apparently healthy persons” was identified as part of the medical brief.

It’s good to know your doctor. And, it’s good to have some forms of screening. However, the annual “medical examination” opens a number of other doors. the critical diagnosis scholar sees two potential interesting points of discussion.

The first is whether or not this becomes a diagnostic fishing expedition. With the doctor’s role so firmly anchored in diagnosis, it may be an expectation of either party that this encounter is about diagnosis (whether it should be or not), and of course, the obvious outcome of this expectation is the ruling in or out of a range of diagnostic possibilities. David Armstrong’s work on surveillance medicine provides useful academic commentary on this. But, this leads to the second problem. If the encounter is not about diagnosis, then it is certainly about medicalisation. If the apparently healthy individual should check in with their doctor, it makes the agent of medicine an arbiter of health. Is that a medical task? Should it be?

On the other hand, as I said above, “knowing” your doctor isn’t a bad thing. It means that they “get” you a bit better, and can be poised and ready to assist more effectively should you fall ill. I see my GP more than I would like, because I am always falling off my mountain bike, and need referrals or prescriptions. But, I know my doctor, and he knows me.

Do you get check ups?

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