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Heuristics in healthcare

On Behalf of | May 21, 2020 | Medical Malpractice |

Turn to any form of popular media, and it will not be long before you encounter news of some recent medical breakthrough. With all of these advances in medical science, it prompts the question of how is it that diagnostic are still such a huge problem plaguing the healthcare industry.

That is what many of those we assist here at Hall Ansley P.C. come to us asking. If you share the same question, it is important to remember that for all of their education and experience, doctors and surgeons follow many of the same general principles any working professional would.

Defining “heuristics” 

That includes following general best practices and industry standards. The professional world labels these “rules of thumb” as heuristics, and they do indeed have a place in healthcare. Clinicians will often begin a diagnostic assessment based on common heuristics. You typically want them to do adhere to proven methods and treatments, yet you also do not want them to bias your doctor’s judgment.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality lists the following as scenarios where this may happen:

  • Developing a diagnosis based primarily on experiences with past patients
  • Basing a diagnosis on an initial diagnostic impression
  • Allowing your demographic factors to influence your diagnosis
  • Placing faith in expert opinion

While these factors may help determine a correct diagnosis, they can lead your doctor astray when relied on too heavily.

Identifying if heuristics had a hand in your case

A review of your medical records may reveal if and overreliance on heuristics contributed to your misdiagnosis. Instances where a doctor ignored clinical indicators in favor of their own opinion can be evidence of this.

You can discover more about the causes of misdiagnoses by continuing to explore our site.

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