How to prevent cognitive errors from doctors

Recently discussed an excellent book about How Doctors Think by Jerome Groopman, a hematologist-oncologist staff physicians at Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

In this review I mentioned the probable cognitive errors a doctor can make, but most important how patients can help their doctors to prevent these cognitive mistakes in some way.

For patients the book can be of value since it teaches them tricks, questioning in order to help the doctor improve his or hers reasoning. Patients can help doctors not to make cognitive mistakes by simple questioning thereby influencing the cognitive processes. For instance the question: What’s the worst thing this can be?, can help the doctor to broaden his view, think more open about a problem, not jump to fast to conclusions. Another example is the question: What body parts are near where I am having my symptoms?

Fortunately the author of the book Jerome Groopman, a hematologist-oncologist and endocrinologist Pamela Hartzband published one of their columns on KevinMD. Besides describing three possible cognitive errors made by doctors in a far better way than I can, they also suggest some remedies. They propose a few simple questions that a clinician can ask himself or herself to protect against falling into one of these thinking traps.

Please read this excellent post when interested in cognitive errors on KevinMD: Three major cognitive errors physicians make. Even better subscribe to the blog on which the author often posts excellent articles on this subject.