Most physicians already have in mind two or three possible diagnoses within minutes of meeting a patient.

This was the title of a lecture I presented a few years ago at Monash Medical Centre to the medical staff. The title was deliberately provocative and the auditorium was filled. Doctors and medical staff work hard, they make critical decisions under relentless pressure and they use the same brain that we use.

This well-written article from the New Yorker by Jerome Groopman explores this topic:

“The errors that doctors make because of their feelings for a patient can be significant. We all want to believe that our physician likes us and is moved by our plight. Doctors, in turn, are encouraged to develop positive feelings for their patients; caring is generally held to be the cornerstone of humanistic medicine. Sometimes, however, a doctor’s impulse to protect a patient he likes or admires can adversely affect his judgment.”

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