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The dangers of doctors sticking too closely to protocols

You go to see a doctor in Pittsburgh expecting for him or her to be able to determine exactly what is wrong with you. Yet we here at Phillips, Phillips, and Smith-Delach, LLC can attest to the fact that physicians are far from infallible. Often, medical errors originate during the diagnostic process. This begs the question of what sort of information to doctors rely on when diagnosing you?

Typically, you will convey your symptoms to a doctor, and then he or she will often follow standard sets of protocols to confirm what they believe may be wrong with you based off your input. These protocols are referred to as “heuristics,” and doctors often allow them to dictate how to progress with your care. However, there can be a risk in doctors relying solely on protocols when treating you.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has recognized through studies that heuristics can often generate a cognitive bias in healthcare providers. The most common are as follows:

  •          Diagnosing a patient based off past experiences
  •          Overreliance on an initial diagnostic impression
  •          Allowing perceived cues and collateral information to bias an opinion
  •          Relying solely on expert opinion

The dangers that arises from each of the aforementioned forms of bias is that the doctor treating you may ignore the clinical indicators you are presenting with in favor of them.

It may be difficult to question the opinion of a seasoned healthcare professional, yet if you hear your doctor using language such as “I’ve seen this before,” or “Your tests say this but I don’t agree with them,” these terms may be indicators your doctor relied too heavily on heuristics when diagnosing you, and potentially ignored other possibilities.

You can discover more about spotting doctor errors by continuing to explore our site. 

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