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MAKING ROUNDS (review)

Review by Stefan Blitz
Produced by Richard Brick, Muffie Meyer
Edited and Co-Produced by Sharon Sachs
Directed by Muffie Meyer
Starring Dr. Valentin Fuster, Dr. Herschel Sklaroff 

On a medical procedural television series, the heroic doctor usually can diagnose the the rarest of diseases or save the patient without the use of expensive tests, often to the shock and dismay of the doctors around them.

And although we quickly dismiss that as drama, after watching Muffie Meyer’s documentary Making Rounds, there’s actually quite a bit of truth to it.

The film focuses on doctors Valentin Fuster and Herschel Sklaroff, both cardiologists at  NYC’s Mount Sinai Hospital.  Over the course of one month, the two veteran doctors lead rounds with younger fellows and residents, meeting with patients and demonstrating the lost art of actually interacting with the patient and the thorough bedside exam.

It is the belief of both Dr. Fuster and Dr. Sklaroff that in order to properly diagnose a patient, the examining doctor must carefully listen and observe.

And this is demonstrated again and again as we see a number of patients suffering from inaccurate treatment, the result of misdiagnoses or inconclusive tests.

Dr. Sklaroff explains to the doctors his (and Dr. Fuster’s) methodology, “(we) make rounds the old fashioned way.  The first thing we do is go to the patient and hold his hand.  With that touch you establish rapport instantly.”  They also reveal that many evaluations can be made simply by looking at the patient’s hands.  In one segment, they are able to diagnose the course of medication a patient is taking simply by observing the size a vein in their neck.

The film is fascinating, but unfortunately drags in the last act when a bit of the focus is on one patient with heart failure who refuses treatment, despite warnings that doing so would be terminal.  It’s not that there isn’t sympathy for the man, but rather a lack of context in how doctor’s deal with a patient who simply doesn’t want to live.

The documentary is a must see, for anyone who has or takes care of a loved one that requires regular medical treatment.  It’s a shame that this style of treatment doesn’t match with our current healthcare system which spends $700 billion is spent annually on medical tests and procedures that aren’t reliable (but they are billable for insurance companies).

Making Rounds is a testament that in medicine, newer and more technologically advanced isn’t necessarily better.  And as a patient, that’s terrifying.

Making Rounds opens today in New York City.
For further screening information, visit www.firstrunfeatures.com

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