Everyone sways their own way sometimes. It’s human nature to be partial towards certain beliefs and that’s totally fine. But, when our own personal inclinations are leading your patients astray, it definitely is time to plant your feet back on the ground and bring them back. The following are some reasons for why physicians will make common errors due to personal bias.
Common Physician Mistakes
I’ve been told a lot in my life that if you don’t know the answer for certain to go with your first impulse. This may have worked in college during a multiple choice test. But, this is not the right approach for treating a patient at all. Sometimes the first impression of a patient’s problems may lead you to believe it is something and when new information is given, you fail to adjust your diagnosis to suit that because you’re so stubbornly going with your initial feeling.
When a patient is suffering from a rare condition. Or if not rare, maybe one that hasn’t been seen in your personal practice for a while it may fly under the radar. On the other side of the coin, if you are seeing a lot of certain thing, you may wrongly assume that a patient is also having the same condition.
If the majority of a medical team believe one thing, it’s easy to feel like your opinion must be wrong. In reality, it’s groupthinking that leads to a whole team just going with one opinion instead of offering their personal ideas.
Instead of trying to find evidence to refute a diagnosis, people have strong tendencies toward proving themselves right. Like “oh well these 3 things must PROVE I was correct.” Hey, let your pride step to the side and think about actually helping your patient and not your ego.
Fundamental Attribution Error.
As terrible as it sounds, there are natural feelings toward putting blame on patients for actions or behavior when there could be legitimate circumstances causing it. This is especially common for psychiatric patients.
Need for Closure.
Doctors sometimes get a strong feeling of need to diagnose a problem within a certain finite time frame. Drawing abrupt conclusions happens for many reasons. Carelessness, pressure, and a general obligation to figure it out and move on to the next patient attributes to this need to make a verdict when the jury isn’t always out.
More than evidence, sometimes we tend to act strongly on hunches and opinion. You can’t rely so heavily on incomplete information. Being thorough when treating a diagnosis is of utmost importance.
Clinicians are less likely to go down a certain path or try an alternative if it takes a lot of their mind power, energy, and/or time. Taking the easy way out is completely unprofessional and frankly, it’s inhumane.
So often, physicians only seek out recent medical information such as recent symptoms without diving into their medical histories. Something from years ago may be the secret key to knowing a patient’s true condition.
Sometimes a very rare diagnosis (the zebra) seems to be likely in a case. However, the physician may be weary of this and want to retreat for fears that there was an error made and start to feel self-conscious about an unusual diagnosis. Also, the tests for rare conditions are costly or difficult to obtain.