Blog — The Snow Report

Physician diagnostic overconfidence may be harming patients, according to a new study published in JAMA. The study was actually about overconfidence regarding internists’ diagnoses. Even in difficult-to-diagnose cases, where the internists were correct in their diagnosis only 5.8 percent of the time, their confidence in their diagnosis was high. In easier cases, they were right only 55 percent of the time. For the study, that made the physician diagnoses wrong half the time.

As Cheryl Clark reports in a story for Health Leaders Media, one of the authors of the study makes the point that hospitals could do a better job of providing feedback to physicians whose initial diagnosis is wrong. Hardeep Singh, MD, principal author of the study, told Clark that the opportunity for learning is sometimes lost when feedback does not occur.

Singh suggests there is a serious problem regarding diagnostic accuracy:

The whole medical enterprise is based on the fact that one goes to a doctor in the belief that doctors usually know what they’re doing, otherwise you won’t go. If a doctor said, ‘you know, I’m kind of wrong half the time,’ no one is going to come to them.

Patient Engagement Needed

As we’ve previously written, patients and their families need to be engaged and consult reliable online resources and/or seek second opinions.

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