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How Doctors Think Paperback – 12 Mar 2008

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; Reprint edition (12 Mar. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547053649
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547053646
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 72,353 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Jerome Groopman, M.D., holds the Dina and Raphael Recanati Chair of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and is chief of experimental medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. A staff writer for The New Yorker, he is the author of How Doctors Think, The Anatomy of Hope, Second Opinions, The Measure of Our Days, and other books.

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Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 13 Nov. 2008
Format: Paperback
This book, despite one or two good chapters ultimately disappoints. Groopman's ego comes across and one can almost feel his sense of superiority coming of the pages. Too much of the book is devoted to telling us about the more inane experiences in his life and he seems to have no problem in repeating the same point repeatedly. The book doesn't flow well, there seems to be little to link one chapter to the next. Whilst a generation ago this may have been one of the few books of its kind out there that is no longer the case today. The far superior books by Atul Gawande are those that people should peruse, not this over sentimentalised, rather dull book. I will make an exception for the chapter on primary care, which alone is the only part of the book worth reading. Make no mistake this book is on an important topic, doctors most of all need to examine how they think. Unfortunately is written by someone poorly literate and with few new things to say.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Razi on 27 July 2013
Format: Paperback
I guess I'm feeling generous enough to give it 2 stars instead of 1.
It's very badly written. He waffles on and on about irrelevant nonsense instead of getting to the point. Each chapter makes one or two good points, but they're padded out with a lot of fluff, the ideas don't flow logically, he goes off on strange rants, recounts long personal anecdotes and he doesn't actually flesh out the ideas he's trying to introduce.
I'm not denying he's written some bits worth reading, but if this book were summarized with the useless bits taken out it would barely make a pamphlet.
Very unimpressive read and I would not recommend it to anyone.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By C. buck on 22 May 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this after reading a review in New Scientist magazine when it first came out. As a practitioner and academic (acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine - 30 years)I have developed an understanding of medical pitfalls and "How Doctors Think" made me realise its not just me - even many doctors (Groopman is doctors clinical tutor)are concerned about the state of modern medicine and are taking the problem seriously enough to do research into the errors that occur and how they can be avoided. The author not only discusses this work but gives us the specialist terms for the thinking errors that lie behind medical mistakes - such as "search satisfaction" - when the person stops thinking as soon as they have thought of a diagnosis that might conceivably explain the symptoms. Groopman devotes a chapter to his own experience of trying to navigate the medical maze and getting hopeless and potentially risky care from "top" US specialists. Like another reviewer I have bought a few copies of this book to give as presents - mainly to medical students, with the hope of having them grow up able to avoid the mistakes. This book is great too for all kinds of medical professionals, alternative included, because they too can fall into some of the same thinking traps. Its a useful handbook for patients as well because the author gives questions you can ask that can help guide your carer's thinking. "Is there anything else it could be doctor?", for example, helps counter the "search satisfaction" problem.
OK, I've given 5 stars, and I mean it, especially because it connects to an evidence base. The main irritation for me was the chatty New York writing style - "he was a regular guy - a 195 pound pitcher for the Yankees..." kind of thing - but we brits can forgive such stuff if the actual content is so valuable. And it is. Buy this medics and be a good doctor.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on 25 Mar. 2007
Format: Hardcover
This alarming statistic introduces Dr. Jerome Groopman's compelling analysis of how doctors think--and what this means for patients seeking diagnoses. Groopman is curious to discover how one doctor misses a diagnosis which another doctor gets. Interviewing specialists in different fields, he analyzes the ways they approach patients, how they gather information, how much they may credit or discredit the previous medical histories and diagnoses of these patients, how they deal with symptoms which may not fit a particular diagnosis, and how they arrive at a final diagnosis.

Throughout, he considers the doctors' time constraints, the pressures on them to see a certain number of patients each day, the limitations on tests which are imposed by insurance companies or by hospitals themselves, and the many options for treating a single disease. He is sympathetic, both toward the patient and the physician, and, because he himself has had medical problems, he provides insights from his own experience to show how physicians (and patients) think.

Case histories abound, beginning with the 82-pound woman, whose celiac disease was not diagnosed for fifteen years. Here Groopman analyzes the uses and misuses of clinical decision trees and algorithms used by many doctors and hospitals to assess probabilities and make decision-making more efficient. Sometimes, however, it is necessary for a doctor to depart from the algorithm and obey intuition. Recognizing when the physician is "winging it"--depending too much on intuition and too little on evidence--is a challenge for both patients and other physicians.
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