Estimated read time: 1-2 minutes
I have never heard or read of a doctor talking with such openness about his or her first misdiagnosis, what went wrong, how it happened, and what they would do differently. The author of this book speaks with surprising candor about how doctors go about diagnosing illness, what influences their thinking, and how a patient can help them make the right judgment.
He shares many, many case studies from his own and other doctors' patients. One example of a doctor missing a diagnosis because it seemed so unlikely was the vigorous forest ranger who was in such good shape, so lean and fit, that the doctor just couldn't imagine he was having a heart attack - so he sent him home from the emergency room. He had a massive heart attack the next day. Or the doctor who gets the patient who has a file 6 inches thick and has been seeing doctors for 15 years diagnosed with anorexia. Why does the fourth doctor catch what is really wrong with the patient (she's allergic to wheat glutton) and everybody else missed it? Because he didn't fall prey to what doctors call diagnosis momentum. He listened to the patient's story, from the beginning, in her own words.
Dr. Groopman suggests you always ask an ER doctor, or any doctor, what's the worst thing this can be? That doesn't make you sound like a hypochondriac - it helps you readjust the doctor's thinking. The book is fascinating and full of practical application. I highly recommend How Doctors Think by Dr. Jerome Groopman.