All of us who have been to a health care provider for a service have experienced the need to provide recent or past medical history information to one of the office staff prior to seeing the doctor. I am not immune to this experience since I now need to see my doctor on a somewhat regular basis. Not only do you need to know your current medication list but provide some information about hospital admissions, emergency visits or operations since the last visit. Some patients are better at providing this information than others.

The pandemic has added a different type of road block to this type of information gathering. Everyone was asked to wear a mask in the examination room. The doctor wore a mask as did all of the support personnel.

This practice of mask wearing remains necessary especially in our office since we deal with patients with lung symptoms and disease. I really cannot say when this currently necessary practice will end.

Here is my point. Not only do I find it hard to recognize some patients despite knowing their names.

I have become accustomed to recognizing my patients by their faces. The lack of facial recognition prevents us from getting emotional information from our patients.

I do not know if they are smiling or frowning. Are they happy or sad? These and other subtle ques to a patient’s emotional status and history are more difficult to come by these days. They are important pieces of information