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How Doctors Think

3.87  ·  Rating Details ·  8,496 Ratings  ·  701 Reviews
On average, a physician will interrupt a patient describing her symptoms within eighteen seconds. In that short time, many doctors decide on the likely diagnosis and best treatment. Often, decisions made this way are correct, but at crucial moments they can also be wrong -- with catastrophic consequences. In this myth-shattering book, Jerome Groopman pinpoints the forces a ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published March 19th 2007 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published 2007)
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Jan 25, 2009 Kirsti rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, science
Things that you should find worrisome if a doctor says them to you or a loved one:

* "We see this sometimes" when said about a case that has some atypical features. The doctor is basically telling you that s/he has stopped thinking.

* "There's nothing wrong with you." Even if your problems are psychogenic, they're still problems, and you are still suffering.

Things you can say to your doctor to help him/her with your case:

- "What's the worst this could be?"

- "Is it possible that I have more than on
Dec 22, 2008 Alison rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: medical students, patients, physicians
How Doctors Think by Jerome Groopman, is a book that explores the topic of the manner by which physicians are taught to think, how they arrive at correct and incorrect diagnoses and how the personality of the physician, the patient and the interaction between the two can affect the diagnosis and treatment. The book is loosely laid out in the same manner that a physician works through a problem with a patient – the history, the physical exam, the lab tests, the differential diagnosis (which is al ...more
Katie Bananas
Dec 17, 2016 Katie Bananas rated it it was amazing
This book was so good. It illustrates the importance of the patient-doctor relationship in the aspects of psychological well being, diagnosis, and treatment of patients. I found that the audiobook was so effective in its delivery and reading of the book. I was very engaged with a constant eagerness to learn.

Groopman emphasizes prime mistakes seen in medical practices of doctors in different specialties. At some point in the last chapter, he states: "Without risking failure, there was zero chanc
Aug 02, 2008 Sue rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Every doctor, every potential patient
A must read for every doctor who practices medicine and for those patients who forget that doctors are practicing medicine and make errors in judgment (and he explains why these mistakes are made in a very very entertaining way). The book served as a reminder that a patient needs to be the captain of their own ship, challenging the inflated notion of even the most respected doctor... The chapter "A New Mother's Challenge" was probably one of the best examples of how and why doctors err and how t ...more
Musab  Abed
Jan 18, 2016 Musab Abed rated it really liked it
A book that helps clinicians to assess the way they think, and to try eliminating the diagnostic errors by diagnosing the doctors' thinking pitfalls (anchoring, attribution and availability types of errors) ..
In my opinion; stereotyping is the most common cause of diagnostic errors .The more expert clinician would be better in diagnosis , but - unfortunately- due to the more 'stereotypes' they had ! so it's a 'double edged sword' ! ,every clinician should relay on his experience but not bypassin
Jun 23, 2008 Sarah rated it liked it
My book club read this book last month. We found it interesting, but repetitive. Basically, Dr. Groopman discusses many ways in which doctors are, gasp, not omniscient and in fact are susceptible to the same errors/ruts/gaps in thinking that plague any of us when trying to solve problems. Recognizing these fallibilities--understanding how a doctor is trained to think-- enables patients to be more proactive, to ask better questions, and thus help themselves by helping the doctor find the correct ...more
Jul 17, 2007 Emma rated it it was amazing
Can Jerome Groopman be my doctor? Mentor? Inspiration? He is so thoughtful and humble and insightful! I am glad that as I go into medical school, I have read this book, and I think I may need to read it again to refresh my memory. Anyone can learn something from this book about how doctors think and how you as a patient can help them. (We have all had our frustrating moments with the medical system.) And I think all doctors (and aspiring doctors) should read this book.
Oct 17, 2007 Christine rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2007
The Science of Doctor Misdiagnosis -- Jerome Groopman is the chief of experimental medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, teaches at Harvard Medical School and is a writer for the New Yorker. Groopman is a doctor who realizes he needs a doctor as the result of an experience in which he found himself plagued by a wrist injury that resulted in multiple diagnoses and treatments from four different doctors with no clear and rationale diagnosis. As a result, he decides to embark ...more
P Chulhi
May 29, 2013 P Chulhi rated it it was ok
Shelves: biomedical
Groopman's free-flowing anecdotal style is his strength, and his unique perspective and journalistic skill are highlighted in the chapter entitled, "Marketing, Money, and Medical Decisions." Here he offers a nuanced perspective and a reasonable, if mundane solution. Medical decisions are indeed influenced by money, Groopman argues, but not in the way most of us might think with the bad guys dressed in black on one side and the good guys adorned in white on the other. Instead, medical decisions a ...more
Dec 30, 2009 Jack rated it it was ok
First of all, I should say that I'm a doc.

This book was strongly recommended to me by several colleagues who I deeply respect. It makes for a reasonable read, and I see why they enjoy it.

It's pretty typical doctor-authored literature. It takes a half decent idea from the social sciences (in this case, that heuristic reasoning is essential for managing very complex environment, but that heuristics have predictable failings). It then illustrates this with a bunch of stories of touching stories of
Jan 01, 2009 Greg rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography, medical
This book helped me make decisions that gave me the patience to weather many tests and consultations that led to the discover of my coronary artery disease before I got a heart attack. Doctors are people too. They are trying to make a living and doing the best they can. Don't hate them because the prescribe expensive drugs or inconclusive tests. You need to work with them and force them to communicate their thinking. Always ask why a test is being administered. When a diagnosis is made, always a ...more
Imene Gouichiche
Jan 21, 2017 Imene Gouichiche rated it it was amazing
A must reading book for both patients and doctors !
-For patients, in order for them to be more "proactive", because a patient insights into his own thinking and emotional state can be enormously helpful to a physician, it may seem odd for some people, but here where lies the genius of this book !
-For doctors now (where I felt more concerned): reading about the best and the most renowned  physicians in the USA having the same struggle that I have brought me confidence ! I also realized that we mu
Andrew Griffith
Oct 09, 2012 Andrew Griffith rated it really liked it
Some of my comments and lessons from the book.

Doctors, like all of us, are subject to many of the 'fast thinking' pattern recognition (System 1), to use Kahneman's phrase as all of us. According to one study cited by Groopman, some 80 percent of misdiagnoses could be attributed to a cascade of cognitive errors, not lack of medical knowledge.

Groopman walks through a large number of examples from a range of medical fields to illustrate some of the more common cognitive errors:

- Attribution errors,
Pris robichaud
Jan 04, 2009 Pris robichaud rated it it was amazing

The Patient: Leader of the Healthcare Team, 1 April 2007

"Patients and their loved ones swim together with physicians in a sea of feelings. Each needs to keep an eye on a neutral shore where flags are planted to warn of perilous emotional currents". Jerome Groopman

The Patient: as a student nurse I was educated to understand that I always needed to listen to my patient, really listen. That philosophy has always served me well. Health care providers tend to be controlling, and when we are given a
Sherwin Wong
Jan 01, 2017 Sherwin Wong rated it really liked it
Accessible for the layperson and thought provoking for the professional. Dr.Groopman outlines common cognitive mistakes and the questions to ask if you suspect them. From the perspective of a medical student - it is interesting to see how our training succeeds and fails in various cases. The questions he suggests that patients and their families ask of physicians are questions we should ask ourselves as well to prevent the pitfalls.
I purchased this book as a result of the frustration I have been experiencing from my own present medical care. Since becoming chronically ill, I have yet to receive a definitive diagnosis, despite the fact that I have seen numerous doctors. Also, upon reviewing my medical records I have found numerous inaccuracies (some of them sizeable). Further, radiologists had missed a brain lesion on MRI scans for more than a 5 years, and when it was eventually spotted, a subsequent brain biopsy literally ...more
Apr 28, 2011 Emily rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, meridian
Everyone makes mistakes every day. We dial a wrong number, or accidentally put bleach in the washing machine with the jeans, or don't see the stop sign. Some mistakes have minor consequences; others can be life-changing. Physicians make dozens, if not hundreds, of decisions a day, many significantly affecting the health and life of others; but in spite of the stakes, it would be unrealistic to expect perfection on every single one. In How Doctors Think, Dr. Groopman investigates how physicians m ...more
Apr 25, 2012 Helen rated it really liked it
Dr. Groopman is the chair of medicine at Harvard Medical School and chief of experimental medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. The idea for this book came to him when he realized his interns, residents, and medical students did not readily think deeply about their patients’ symptoms to arrive at a diagnosis. Frequently, the students’ conclusions were correct, but when they weren’t, there was potential for things to go terribly wrong.

Using real-life examples, Groopman expl
Jan 20, 2016 Jeanne rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
How Doctors Think s is a smart yet accessible book that could be usefully read by patients and their families, as well as by physicians who want to become more effective at their job. It demystifies physicians' actions, while gently removing them from their pedestals, simultaneously elevating patients' role in their own care. If there is one lesson here, do not be a passive bystander in your medical care.

How Doctors Think is organized around a series of interviews of physicians (mostly) in a var
Dec 14, 2009 Valerie rated it it was amazing
This was a phenomenal book that changed the way I looked at every doctors visit I've ever had, along with questioning at least one diagnosis from my past.

Groopman told story after story about how once one doctor gives you a diagnosis, most other doctors will shut down their "cognitive reasoning" and never question that diagnosis and will keep trying to treat something you may not have. In some stories, this resulted in the death of a patient. He also talks about how physician lore and influence
Jamie Mealey
Sep 08, 2015 Jamie Mealey rated it really liked it
This book was very easy for me to read and stay interested in. I have always been interested in medicine and diagnostics and this book really gave you a glimpse into what it is like for doctors to diagnose a patient and the consequences of a misdiagnosis. To fully understand the book, you only need a very small background on medicine. For example,you will encounter terms like "attending physician" and "resident" being used in a medical sense. But overall I think this book could be read by anyone ...more
May 30, 2014 Almas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"A book is an experiment, and as with all experiments, there is a sense of uncertainty about how ti will turn out."

The book has a lot of pros and cons. What I mean is that the pros and cons of the cognitive thinking doctors go through are all provided by this book. I like how Groopman includes other health professions (not just doctors right?) into discussions on how they think as well.

Each problem is stated though a story, problem then stated, problem solved, and explaining the problem behind
Jun 25, 2012 K. rated it really liked it
Groopman, an oncologist, looks at the way doctors perceive data and make judgments about patient care. He includes discussions on how radiologists process visual data, how doctors make decisions about prescriptions, how oncologists balance treatments, side effects, patient preference and doctor bias in order to design a treatment plan, how pharmacy companies influence doctor care, etc. I have long perceived medicine to be an interpretive art, supported by data. But Groopman well illustrates this ...more
May 30, 2009 Willa rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2009
This book was primarily about habits of thinking that can lead a doctor to misdiagnose a case or miss clues that make a difference in treatment. One example -- a woman who was underweight, suffering from loss of bone and kidney issues, who went from one doctor to another and had a case file which labeled her as suffering from anorexia and bulimia. Ultimately she turned out to be suffering from severe celiac disease.

Using many examples of this sort, including some from his own life, Dr Groopman
Book Concierge
Book on CD read by Michael Prichard

Groopman did a wealth of research and extensive interviews with some of America’s best doctors, as well as used his own experiences as a physician and as a patient, to craft this treatise on the thought processes behind the decisions made by physicians. He expounds on the cognitive pitfalls that might cause misguided care: premature closure, framing effect, search satisfaction. He also explores the tendency to rely on algorithms and statistical profiles rat
Jan 03, 2012 Sheri rated it really liked it
This highly readable book by medical writer Jerome Groopman certainly explains why I usually leave my doctor's office feeling the way I do, which is not particularly happy, despite my overall good health.

Groopman opines that "good medicine" is practiced by doctors who get to know their patients, ask them open-ended questions that allow the patient to provide the clues needed to make an accurate diagnosis, and are good listeners. When there's a shortage of primary care physicians like we're expe
May 11, 2009 Susan rated it really liked it
I can sum up the whole book with this little syllogism:

-Humans make mistakes.

-Doctors are human.

-Therefore, doctors make mistakes.


Okay, just kidding. There's way more to it than that. You hear a lot about how as a patient you have to "be your own advocate"; How Doctors Think will give you a blueprint of what to do and say to accomplish that goal.

In Groopman's exploration of the myriad ways doctors and patients miscommunicate, it's nice that he doesn't adopt a blame-the-patient tone; nor d
Sep 29, 2010 Stef rated it liked it
Groopman describes various cases from his practice and those of other doctors, as well as a case in which he was a patient seeking diagnosis and treatment. He uses these cases to discuss the thinking errors that cause diagnostic mistakes and oversights, and the ways that the medical system perpetuates diagnostic mistakes once they are made. He is honest and so are the other doctors he interviews. He writes very clearly and some of the stories are really compelling.

I have a lot of experience with
Oct 21, 2009 Courtney rated it really liked it
Seems well-written for an audience of both doctors and laypeople alike. As a non-doctor, I found the anecdotal illustrations the author told particularly engaging (similar to short mystery/suspense stories) though some of the technical explanations of disease and treatments made my eyes glaze. I especially liked how the book recounts questions patients should ask doctors, in order to help the doctor think better--doctors are, after all, subject to the human tendency to have off and on times wher ...more
Ahmed Adel Sharf Aldin
Jun 18, 2016 Ahmed Adel Sharf Aldin rated it it was amazing
Medical error—the third leading cause of death in the US ..
bmj, 2016

Via a story telling style, the doctor leads us through a punch of cognitive errors each doctor can develop during his practice.

I think that, putting all these information in mind, the medical education is facing the most serious problem to overcome this era. it won't be just about the medical information, symptoms, signs, investigations or treatment. it is about the personnel.
I think in a world of atypical renewabl
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Dountain Dew and ...: House ain't got nothing on Groopman 1 3 Apr 11, 2016 09:11PM  
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“I feel that I have to do everything better just to be judged as okay. It is something I wish I could let go of. It's something that I wish just wasn't there.” 6 likes
“Statistics cannot substitute for the human being before you; statistics embody averages, not individuals.” 2 likes
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