K.'s Reviews > How Doctors Think

How Doctors Think by Jerome Groopman
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's review
Jun 25, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: aging, death-and-dying, health, psychology, science, medicine
Read in September, 2012

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 point through research, anecdote and personal experience--including his own as both doctor and patient.

Here is a summarizing / call-to-action quote from his conclusion:

"The cognitive mistakes that account for most misdiagnoses are not recognized by physicians; they largely reside below the level of conscious thinking. When you or your loved one asks simply, "What else could it be?" you help bring closer to the surface the reality of uncrtainty in medicine. "What else could it be?" is a key safeguard against these errors in thinking: premature closure, framing effect, availability from recent experience, the bias that the hoofbeats are horses and not zebras. Each cognitive error constrains the pursuit of answers, and correcting the error helps the doctor think of a test or procedure that he didn't previously consider and can make the diagnosis" (p. 263).

He then continues by suggesting two more questions: "Is there anything that doesn't fit?" and "Is it possible I have more than one problem?"

Groopman is very kind to open the door into the doctor's office where we can watch him/her pour over patient records, current research, and information gleaned from calling a collegue. The doctor's skill is demystified. But instead of losing power, the doctor becomes empowered by the invitation to collaborate with others, particularly the patients themselves. This book will help you engage more effectively in the doctor-patient relationship.
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message 1: by Mmars (new) - added it

Mmars This sounds like a must read for nearly anyone!

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