/ /

  • linkedin
  • Increase Font
  • Sharebar

    Even seasoned physicians can fall into cognitive bias traps

    Ophthalmologists should stay aware of potential biases in thinking to help make better diagnoses

    Take home message: By staying aware of cognitive biases and combining intuitive thinking with critical/analytical thinking as well as good history taking, physicians can improve quality of care.



    Greenville, SC—Ophthalmologists naturally want to help patients to the best of their abilities and make accurate diagnoses.

    Yet, even the most seasoned and knowledgeable ophthalmologist can fall victim to cognitive biases, said Harold E. Shaw, MD, Greenville, SC.

    Both heuristics—which are mental shortcuts—as well as cognitive biases can sometimes negatively affect the way an ophthalmologist diagnoses a patient, Dr. Shaw said.

    For example, one heuristic well-known in medicine is Occam’s razor, which basically states that for a patient’s given symptoms, they should look for one diagnosis instead of two. However, a counter well-known heuristic, Hickam’s dictum, states that a patient can “have as many diseases as they damn well please.”

    Ophthalmologists (and physicians as a whole) can fall prey to a number of cognitive bias, including the following, Dr. Shaw said:

    ·      Anchoring: relying too heavily on earlier information and be overly influenced by a first impression

    ·      Premature closure: accepting a diagnosis before it has been fully verified

    ·      Availability: making a diagnosis based on what most readily comes to mind; the information that comes to mind quickly is based on recent or vivid experiences

    ·      Confirmation: giving more credence to information that supports what you believe instead of contradicting evidence

    ·      Framing: drawing different conclusions from the same information depending on how the information is presented.

    “All of these are important because they influence our clinical decisions every day,” Dr. Shaw said.

    New Call-to-action


    You must be signed in to leave a comment. Registering is fast and free!

    All comments must follow the ModernMedicine Network community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated. ModernMedicine reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part,in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

    • No comments available


    View Results