"How Doctors Think" Reviewed

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I'm almost finished reading Dr. Jerome Groopman's book on medical mistakes, "How Doctors Think."

Well, not reading, exactly. I'm listening to it as an audiobook from Audible.com on my iPhone. Audible provides audiobooks on a wide variety of topics, including many books on medicine and technology. I highly recommend them. If you're listening to audiobooks, I also recommend increasing the speed, which most iPods allow you to do, and the iPod also adjusts the pitch, so the voice isn't distorted. Finally, along with audiobooks, I also recommend medical podcasts, and I've written about podcasts before on Tech Medicine.

Back to "How Doctors Think." The book is a series of loosely related anecdotes about cases involving common errors in thinking. (A more accurate title would be "How Doctors Err.") Rather than adopting a dry academic tone on the subject of medical mistakes, Groopman chose to tell a series of stories of otherwise good clinicians who were led astray -- by choosing a convienent diagnosis, by failing to question a diagnosis, by letting emotion affect judgement, by not picking up on red flags in presentations of patients that should have prompted further reflection. While it only occasionally delves into academic research in how doctors think (and err), the book primarily focuses on narratives; this occasionally leaves the reader wishing for more detailed, technical, practical information on the nature of errors in medical thinking.

"How Doctors Think" is designed for both health care providers and patients. For providers, it provides a caution against making common mistakes. For patients, it urges them to be aware of the potential for mistakes in thinking and gives advice on how patients can help doctors arrive at the right diagnosis.
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About the Author


MD, FACP, FASN

Dr. Schwimmer's blog explores the intersection of medicine, new technologies, and the Internet.

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