Goldsmith & Goldsmith, LLP
New York
212-421-5500
New Jersey
201-429-7892
Se Habla Español

Medical Malpractice
Attorneys And Trained Medical
Professionals

Trust our firm to deliver exceptional client service no matter how complex your medical malpractice case is.

Medical Malpractice
Attorneys And Trained
Medical
Professionals

Trust our firm to deliver exceptional client service no matter how complex your medical malpractice case is.

What is healthcare cognitive bias and why does it matter?

On Behalf of | Feb 2, 2024 | Medical Malpractice

Healthcare cognitive bias refers to the systematic ways in which the thinking and judgment of healthcare professionals can be influenced, leading to deviations from good decision-making or best practices. Put another way, it’s a phenomenon in which a healthcare provider’s sense of reality can be impacted in ways that can ultimately harm patients. 

These biases can arise from a variety of sources, including personal experiences, professional training and the cultural and institutional environment in which healthcare providers operate. Cognitive biases can impact all aspects of healthcare, including diagnosis, treatment decisions and patient interactions.

What does this phenomenon look like in practice?

One common form of cognitive bias in healthcare is confirmation bias, where providers may favor information that confirms their existing beliefs or hypotheses, ignoring or undervaluing evidence that contradicts them. This can lead to misdiagnosis or the continuation of ineffective treatments. 

Another example is anchoring bias, where the first piece of information that a provider receives disproportionately influences subsequent judgment and decisions. In a healthcare setting, this might mean that an initial, potentially incorrect diagnosis influences all future interpretations of a patient’s symptoms, possibly leading to inappropriate – and even harmful – approaches to care.

Why you should care about this issue

The implications of cognitive biases in healthcare are significant because they can directly impact patient outcomes. Biased decision-making can lead to diagnostic errors, inappropriate treatments and missed opportunities for early intervention. Moreover, biases can contribute to health disparities that impact women, people of color and other minorities, as implicit biases may affect the quality of care provided to different demographic groups.

Ultimately, understanding and mitigating healthcare cognitive biases matters because they can get in the way of patients receiving equitable, high-quality care.