Book review: How Doctors Think

How Doctors Think. by Gerome Groopman, MD. Houghton Mifflin, 2007. ISBN-10: 0618610030 ISBN-13: 978-0618610037. Hardcover, 320 pages. Regular $29.95; $18.87.

Have you ever thought about the processes physicians go through when they diagnose and treat pa­tients? If you had to write down the mental steps you follow as you take a history and physical to come up with a diagnosis and treatment plan, could you? Jerome Groopman explores this process in his book How Doctors Think. 

Not only does he explore the way we are taught to think but outlines the common pitfalls and errors that this line of thinking can produce. He labels each of these common errors and explains them using examples involving practising clinicians and their patients. 

Physicians eloquently disclose some of their worst diagnostic failures and even a few of their victories. Dr Groop­man takes these vignettes and uses them to outline where our thinking as physicians can lead us astray. I’m sure each and every one of us will pain­ful­ly recognize our­selves in some of the chapters. The chapters are well organized and can be read as stand-alone or sequentially. 

I particularly enjoyed the chapter “The Eye of the Beholder,” which explores intraobserver and inter­observer variability among medical diagnosticians. Overall I found this book to be an enjoyable and worthwhile read. 

David R. Richardson, MD. Book review: How Doctors Think. BCMJ, Vol. 50, No. 2, March, 2008, Page(s) 71 - News.

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