There have been few changes in the life of man as profound as those which have happened in the biomedical sciences and in medical practice in the last few decades.
Enormous developments in the field of technology have brought about unimaginable progress in diagnostic and therapeutic ability and, consequently, the emergence of new branches of specialized disciplines, created to keep up with the rapid increase of knowledge and the ever more sophisticated methods of biotechnology. This has brought about a fragmentation of knowledge. For this reason, on the clinical level, a patient no longer finds him or herself under the care of just
one physician, but of several specialists in different disciplines who frequently collaborate.
Along with this maximum capacity for analysis, in general, there is only a minimum capacity for synthesis, and professional commitment is concentrated primarily on analysis.
Yet, medicine’s key points of reference - health, sickness, life, death - pertain to a total and unifying element which is the whole person.
Historically and traditionally, medicine has been identified with the applied practice of a doctor during his/her encounter with a patient; therefore, a meeting of persons. The patient-physician relationship represents the historical nucleus of medical practice.
In actuality, the neutrality and objectivity that characterize diagnostic testing runs the risk of turning this relationship into the so-called “silent medicine,” – silent on the part of the “owner” of the sickness, that is, the patient.