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Welcome to the nexus of ethics, psychology, morality, philosophy and health care

Thursday, March 24, 2016

When Doctors Should Say 'I Don't Know'

By Julie Beck
The Atlantic
Originally published February 29, 2016

Here is an excerpt:

Doctors’ tools, knowledge, and treatments have improved since the bloodletting days, and we now have the ability to scan and analyze the body down to the cellular level. But “precision is not the same thing as certainty,” Hatch writes, and often, doctors are just making guesses based on the best evidence they have—a measuring of risks and benefits and probabilities that can be easily influenced by their preconceptions.

Medicine is a high-stakes game of uncertainty, complicated by the fact that people are naturally predisposed to seek certainty whenever possible. If you don’t know what something is, it could be a threat, out there on the ancient savannah of evolutionary psychology logic. That goes for patients and doctors alike, and if both parties are in agreement that certainty is best, it’s possible that they’ll just blow past the risks of a treatment, or the dubiousness of a diagnosis, for the sake of having an answer.

The article is here.
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