People in Cincinnati go their doctors expected that said professional’s experience and expertise will help them arrive at the correct diagnosis as to what is ailing them. However, most also realize that even with the many advances made in modern medicine in recent year, diagnostic science still has its limitations. Thus, misdiagnoses will happen (indeed, according to information shared by CBS News, more than 12 million Americans are misdiagnosed by clinicians every year). Yet patient’s still have the right to expect that their doctors will use sound judgment when diagnosing their conditions. If that expectation is not met, they may justly question why.
Often, healthcare professionals will incorporate heuristics into their decision-making. Heuristics are the accepted best practices within an industry, and have typically been developed through both study and the analysis of real-world data. Doctors are not discouraged from considering heuristics when examining their patients; it is when they allow heuristics to completely influence their decisions that problems arise.
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has identified certain scenarios where heuristics can have a hand in a misdiagnosis. These include:
- Doctors relying too heavily on an initial clinical impression
- Doctors basing their decisions on recent trends as opposed to a patient’c clinical indicators
- Doctors placing too much faith in expert opinion
- Doctors allowing collateral information (e.g. a patient’s demographics) to influence their opinions
How is one to know if heuristics might have driven their doctor to misdiagnose them? A review of their medical record (specifically the notes related to the visit on which their misdiagnosis occurred) might reveal a doctor’s reasoning as to how and why they arrived at a particular diagnosis.