Thought Experiment #7:

What if you were a patient and you had a choice of medical diagnoses–an RD or a BD–which one would you choose?

(When an RD is a ‘RIGHT diagnosis’ and a BD is a ‘BETTER diagnosis’.)


Have a think. Make your choice between RD or BD. Say why you made your choice.

56 thoughts on “You choose: RIGHT diagnosis or BETTER diagnosis?

  1. A RIGHT diagnosis is the only correct answer. Otherwise it is like saying “if x is the largest possible number, what is a number larger than x?” And giving the answer x+n which cannot be true.

  2. What you point out is the ‘scientific method’, Raj, the constant search for a better ‘truth’ than the current ‘truth’. It never ends. This accounts for the accelerating march of science compared to the slow pace of ‘legal’ systems like the Abrahamic traditions. There is room for both.

  3. Indeed, Andreas, this is the thinking response we are hoping for. cvs2bvs. The time spent defending a ‘right’ diagnososis may be spent searching for a ‘better’ diagnosis. There is a paradox here. Nice one.

  4. I would take the BD. I think even when I look for the better diagnosis I will not fixate on the first right diagnosis. I will keep looking for other possible explanations and possible better diagnosis. This will open up the door for better treatments rather than one that is just based on my first impression.

  5. “Better” Diagnosis is … well… better. At least this is in part because “Right” Diagnosis is problematic; What is the context? Can it be known and if so by which or who’s criteria? And over what time, what s knowledge changes? Then finally, how can “right” even be evaluated?

  6. The right option is what is currently always the option that is chosen in clinical practice. With much effort, teams of individuals such as the team I work with are constantly working towards a better diagnostic. Eventually these teams will either succeed and the better solution is validated and becomes the right diagnostic. That said, I will always choose the better diagnostic as it is the better diagnostic.

  7. I definitely take a BD , but an RD is also considered as a medical second opinion, so that I can gain more knowledge of my condition and my options too.

  8. My personal experience tells me that across senior clinicians they are driven by providing the right diagnosis and treatment pathways. This is almost always code for: providing my (owned by me) personal opinion of the situation which is obviously the best diagnosis/treatment pathway because I am the best at what I do. I am constantly probing to help determine the motivation of the clinician. Do I get the sense that they need to be right? Is it important to them (as a well payed and respected operator) that they make a point of providing other theories on diagnostic outlook, treatment etc? Had a great example last month where I shopped an emerging medical issue with the senior teams at a leading hospital in Melbourne. Fascinating what came back!
    I take better any day

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