The biggest mistake a patient can ever make The biggest mistake a patient can ever make isn’t really what you are thinking. This is because it is not turning down treatments or tests recommended by their doctors. It is also not opting to take medicines recommended by their doctors. Still, it is not insisting that they get tests which their doctors do not approve and it is not failing to keep off the sun, use sunscreen, exercise, and lose weight or quick smoking. Rather, the greatest mistake a patient can ever make is to think anecdotally instead of statistically.

When emotional beliefs rule our decision making process

All of us tend to come to conclusions about frequency at which things usually occur and not from the statistical analysis but based on how easily we can remember examples of them happening. For instance, if the news reports an airplane crash, we tend to believe that the plan we are flying in will also crash. Also, if a friend develops a certain complication after a surgery, we also tend to think that we will suffer a similar complication as well and we overlook what the statistics suggest. The truth is that we tend to believe more on stories rather than what facts say. This makes us heavily rely on our emotions about the benefits and risks associated with a decision we are about to make such as having a surgery or going for some medication. Emotional belief mostly comes from the experience we have and stories we hear about the subject matter.

We believe that such line of thinking can help in wise decision making, but the truth is that it doesn’t. If a relative or friend experiences a certain complication resulting from surgery, we are likely not to listen to a doctor who proposes the same surgery to us. There are times however when our intuition serves us well and comes as a benefit to us. There are times when recommendations made by the doctors are based on nothing rather than clinical presumption and judgment on what they think their patients should be doing. And when this is unavoidable, this can represent a mistake when doctors think too much of the recommendations they give than it is warranted.

Don’t dismiss doctor’s suggestions automatically

However, even though we might not agree on what the doctor thinks is good for us, we shouldn’t just dismiss their advice automatically when it is different from our inclinations. This is because obviously have great advantages over the patients they take care of. They have the ability of thinking dispassionately about the various choices likely to be faced by their patients. Also, their experience and knowledge is something that we can’t simply disregard. Statistical thinking requires us to calculate the likelihood of something good or bad happening to us. The best thing is that we have info that can enable us to make more informed and nearly accurate decisions.