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How Doctors Think

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  11,682 ratings  ·  833 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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Average rating 3.92  · 
Rating details
 ·  11,682 ratings  ·  833 reviews

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Jan 25, 2009 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
Clif Hostetler
Everyone needs to be their own advocate for their health care. A good first step is to understand how doctors think, and that's what this book attempts to do. The book generally focuses on the problem of incorrect diagnoses. Following each example of incorrect diagnosis there is an analysis of the reasons why the errors were made. Then the authors suggests ways doctors and patients can avoid similar problems in the future. There are numerous ideas and suggestions for patients to use in improving ...more
Dec 22, 2008 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
Jul 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone who has a body
Unfortunately, I presently have no time to write a proper review of this outstanding book. So I just say that it is one of the most fascinating, and maybe, THE most fascinating medical book I have ever read.

This book was written for doctors AND patients. So yesterday, I gave a copy of this book to my primary care physician. I did this for altruistic AND for selfish reasons.

If you want to do yourself a favor, please read this book, buy extra copies to make them presents for your loved ones, and l
Katie Bananas
Dec 17, 2016 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 chan
Aug 02, 2008 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 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 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 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.
P Chulhi
May 29, 2013 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
Oct 17, 2007 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
Assia  Mohdeb
Mar 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
“ This book is about what goes on in a doctor's mind as he or she treats a patient. You ‘d be able , at the end of it, to answer some of the main Questions that Dr Jerome Groopman had first asked such as ; How should a doctor think? Do different doctors think differently? Are different forms of thinking more or less prevalent among the different specialties? In other words, do surgeons think differently from internists, who think differently from pediatricians? Is there one "best" way to think, ...more
Dec 30, 2009 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
Oct 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
An interesting enough look at the human failings of doctors: misdiagnoses and why they occur, the influence of pharmaceutical companies, fear of failure causing poor treatment, etc. I found the most interesting part to be why doctors misdiagnose patients: it's not incompetence, usually, but rather cognitive errors. The author interviewed several doctors and got very honest stories about what their biggest (known) failures were and their reflections on them. He also offers very useful suggestions ...more
Apr 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I really should not have read this book! It confirmed all of my worst assumptions about doctors - how little they know, how so many factors can influence their diagnoses and approaches, how visiting 5 different doctors may yield 5 different perspectives.

All that being said, I am glad I read this book since the author, to some extent, gives you strategies on how to manage or select doctors to improve care. In the end, I am not sure I am that much wiser, but I appreciated that one doctor (the aut
Aug 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
- one star because not every physician is male.
Andrew Griffith
Oct 09, 2012 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,
Jan 01, 2009 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
Apr 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent read, both for physicians and those in medicine, and for patients. Groopman discusses errors in thinking physicians make, and offers suggestions to work around them. Specific chapters deal with errors in primary care, where you are looking for the one sick patient in the sea of healthy ones every day, to errors in very specific subspecialities such as pediatric cardiology, where we must not forget we are making some of this up as we go along, as each patient is unique and re ...more
Like the other Groopman book I read, this one is pretty much all anecdotes, that favorite tool of non-fiction writers that don't seem to trust readers with non-narrative information. The problem with that is that one person's story can illustrate a point, but should not become the point. So many books do this, and I notice that people now expect "proof" to exist of a single example. The anecdotal evidence fallacy is alive and well in non-fiction.

But I digress....

Anecdotes can be interesting, bu
Oct 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Very similar to malaysian book Diagnosis, what i learnt here are:

1. Doctors made errors
2. Make sure to complete examination, because you may miss what important
3. Misdiagnosis or another diagnosis are possible with same symptom
4. To provide a quality care require a lot of than just making decision?
5. A patient that curious about the illnesses and in search of its information are rare and can help in finding out what actual problem is
6. In some situation, a doctor need to be honest fully of what
Michael Gray
Jul 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a thorough and honest review of the complex process of clinical decision-making in the modern healthcare environment. Dr. Groopman uses compelling stories from his own clinical encounters and those of his colleagues to lay out the internal and environmental factors which influence the way we think and act. Often this influence occurs subconsciously.

By bringing attention to the wide ranging factors that can affect quality of care (from time constraints and financial incentives to cognitiv
Imene Gouichiche
Jan 21, 2017 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
Feb 25, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Doctors are human beings and as such, can have biases in how they practice medicine. Doctors will prescribe the few dozen medicines that they've always prescribed and will recommend treatments that they specialize in. After all, it's what they know and in the fierce business of providing healthcare, they don't have the time to research new medicines launched every year. When the author sought treatment for his hand pain, he consulted five doctors and received five different therapy recommendatio ...more
Kajori Chakravorty
May 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is mandatory reading for all medical students, residents and attendings who want to improve their practicing abilities. Not only does the author talk about the ideals of medical practice, he offers practical questions that the physician (and the patient) can consider either when faced with a medical conundrum or even when presented a seemingly cut-and-dry case that may actually disguise something more severe or uncommon. For me, this book started in my head the transition from finding ...more
Jul 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
the advice given to patients and healthcare practitioners alike is still applicable 13 years after the publication and is a reminder to ask the right questions as patients, to push for more, to open up a deeper dialogue with providers. as providers, to do our best to snap out of stereotypical thinking and truly hear concerns.
however, the use of “retarded” to describe a child born with disability was rather distasteful. also wasn’t a fan of often referring to doctors as “he”
Jan 19, 2021 rated it really liked it
I read this book in order to learn more about how doctors make decisions. It was certainly a helpful window into the experience of being a doctor, and the common pitfalls of diagnostic decision-making. I very much enjoyed the narratives about patients and doctors that were employed to illustrate the points the author was making. The final chapter and epilogue really drove home the ways that patients and doctors can work together during treatment, and how patient quality of life should drive conv ...more
May 04, 2019 marked it as dnf
DNF @ 20% - just wasnt the kind of book i thought it would be. The audiobook narrator sounds like he's doing a transatlantic accent though, so that was kind of fun! ...more
Traci at The Stacks
Super interesting read about doctors and how they relate to our medical needs. Some parts were amazing some were boring and dragged on. Overall good and gave me lots to think about.
Pris robichaud
Jan 04, 2009 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
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