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"Science fiction and science have always danced around each other. Science fiction is the subconscious of science."
- Greg Bear

Phymech  
  A robotic physician.  

Far more intricate than a mere robot-mechanical, yet far simpler than a human brain, it was capable-after proper conditioning-of the most delicate of operations. Further, the "phymech", as it was tagged soon after, was capable of infallible diagnosis, involving anything organic.

The House of Congress appointed a committee of fact-finders, from the firm of Data, Unlimited... They found phymechs could be operated in all the socialized hospitals of the Continent, for far less than was being spent on Doctor's salaries.

A phymech absorbed one half pint of Iiquified radiol every three years, and an occasional oiling, to insure proper functioning.

So the government passed a law. The Hippocratic Law of of 2088, which said, in essence:
"All ministrations shall henceforth be confined to government- sponsored hospitals; emergency cases necessitating attendance outside said institutions shall be handled only, repeat only, by registered Physician Mechanicals issu-ing from registered hospital pools. Any irregularities or deviations from this procedure shall be handled as cases outside the law, and illegal attendance by non-Mechanical Physicians shall be severely punishable by cancellation of practicing license and/or fine and imprisonment ..."

Johns Hopkins was the first to be de-franchised.


(Phymechs from 'Wanted in Surgery' by Harlan Ellison)

A few specialist schools were maintained for a time, but it became increasingly apparent after the first three years of phymech operation, that even the specialists were slow compared to the robot doctors.

From Wanted in Surgery, by Harlan Ellison.
Published by IF Worlds of Science Fiction in 1957
Additional resources -

Additional details:

There were no operating lamps in the ceiling, as in old-style hospitals, for the phymechs each had their own powerful "internal" light mounted atop their heads, that served more accurately than any outside light could have...

but no, it had to be a brain job, with the phymechs' thirty telescoping, snakelike appendages extruded, and snicking into the patient...

One of the telescoping, snakelike tentacles of one phymech had a wafer-thin circular saw on it, and as Thomas watched, the saw sliced down, and they could hear the buzz of steel meeting skull...

...the snicker and gleam of the instruments being whipped from their cubicles in the phymech's storage-bin chest.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Wanted in Surgery
  More Ideas and Technology by Harlan Ellison
  Tech news articles related to Wanted in Surgery
  Tech news articles related to works by Harlan Ellison

Phymech-related news articles:
  - Robot Surgeons No Better Than Humans

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Hotels Turn To Robots As Human Workers Regroup

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