Home - Patient Safety

Top Ten Medical Myths

of which there are 70 so far

Or
"Bleep" health care workers say.

by Joel
Repeating a myth to debunk it can backfire. It can solidify the myth in the minds of its believers, but this site isn't for the believers. It is for patients to protect themselves from them. For the patient community to develop strategies for surviving medicine's wishful, self-serving group-thinking, it needs to be aware that such thoughts are pathologies and not blindly swallow whatever comes from the minds of the authority figures.

Myth #1: The benevolent overlord model can work (see old world thinking).

Myth #2: The only thing a patient needs to know is that the Health Care Professional is licensed (see 5%).

Myth #3: You should put your faith in one doctor and let that doctor guide your care (see Myths #16 & 17).

Myth #4: Health Care Professionals always have the patient’s best interest at heart (see Myth #20).

Myth #5: All Health Care Professionals begin with a desire to help people (see Myth #20).

Myth #6: Health Care Professionals never interpret the evidence of their senses in self-serving ways (psychology).

Myth #7: Physicians and nurses know their own success rates (so many references came to mind I couldn't choose).

Myth #8: State medical boards protect patients (see OSMB).

Myth #9: A doctor would have no reason to harm a patient (see shockingly ignorant).

Myth #10: Lawsuits filed by patients often are frivolous (see Studdert).

Myth #11: Health Care Professionals have no unconscious, habitual ways of persuading themselves that they haven't injured the patients they have injured (see white wall of silence).

Myth #12: Doctors are not brokers with no skin in the game like the mortgage brokers who caused a national financial crisis.

Myth #13: "Sorry" works for more than .0001% of injured patients (see apologies).

Myth #14: Patients always lie.

Myth #15: Doctors never do surgery as a first resort.

Myth #16: Patients who get second and third opinions are just patients who are looking for someone who will tell them what they want to hear (see Myth #17).

Myth #17: Patients should put all their eggs in one basket (see Myths #23 & 28).

Myth #18: Medicine is full of good people so there is no need to worry about bad ones (see crime).

Myth #19: Liability limitations are about frivolous claims and not about keeping injured patients out of court (see liability limitations).

Myth #20: Health care professionals are saints.

Myth #21: Health Care Professionals never intentionally harm patients.

Myth #22: Your primary care physician's superior knowledge will steer you around bankruptcy, injury and death.

Myth #23: All people working in medicine are trustworthy professionals who know what they are doing (see crime).

Myth #24: There's no need to double check the medications you receive.

Myth #25: Operative reports and medical records accurately reflect what happened.

Myth #26: X-ray and lab reports cannot be manipulated to coverup anything.

Myth #27: Doctors are well versed in nutrition and pharmaceuticals.

Myth #28: You can rest assured that the facility has conducted a thorough credentialing of all personnel and is keeping track of the quality of their work on the job (see majors).

Myth #29: The doctor whose consent form you signed will be the person operating.

Myth #30: You will be given an accurate assessment of the risks and costs of treatment ahead of time.

Myth #31: Errors are the main problem for patient safety (see nequamitis).

Myth #32: If you get injured by treatment, no one will try to persuade you that you didn't.

Myth #33: Health Care Professionals have objective information about the success rates of the other Health Care Professionals to whom they refer patients.

Myth #34: If you need treatment for iatrogenic injuries, you will have no trouble finding someone who will diagnose and treat such injuries (blacklisting).

Myth #35: The Health Care Professional who injures a patient will not be able to persuade the rest of the medical community that the injued patient is a crazy person with a frivolous grievance.

Myth #36: Health Care Professionals never give patients a reason to complain.

Myth #37: There never is a need for patients to warn other patients about a facility or treatment or Health Care Professional.

Myth #38: Health Care Professionals and their institutions never file frivolous suits against patients in order to shut them up.

Myth #39: It never is in the interest of Health Care Professionals to deliver sub-optimal care.

Myth #40: Health Care Professionals never prescribe unnecessary treatments to make money.

Myth #41: Health Care Professionals know what is in the best interests of patients.

Myth #42: Politics in medicine never overshadow patient safety.

Myth #43: Health Care Professionals never agree among each other to remain silent about colleagues who are dangerous (see loyalty).

Myth #44: Health Care Professionals can police Health Care Professionals (see OSMB).

Myth #45: No Health Care Professional would remain silent about a problem in medicine because the consequences for patient safety would be too great (a quotation from a president of the Ohio State Medical Board).

Myth #46: There are no Hodad's or quacks in medicine.

Myth #47: All Health Care Professionals are equally competent.

Myth #48: There is no conflict of interest between Health Care Professionals and patients.

Myth #49: The record is the Health Care Professional's and the Health Care Professional may return to it to "correct" it at any time in the future (stated under oath by a surgeon in a deposition - they really believe these things).

Myth #50: Liability issues are the reason few patient harm problems are put in the record.

Myth #51: Health Care Professionals can make medicine transparent because they, alone among humans, are objective and unfettered by self-interested delusions (see subjectivity).

Myth #52: HIPAA laws prevent patients from making their records public (countless patients have had their doctors try to persuade them of this - many, including me, have had their doctors tell them that HIPAA laws prevented their releasing the the patient's own records to the patient).

Myth #53: What Health Care Professionals say to patients is confidential and should not be posted on the internet.

Myth #54: It is better for patients to have faith, hope and trust than skepticism and wariness (see wrong-rate).

Myth #55: In medicine it is possible to create a culture rich in reporting (see Myths #5 and #51 and A litmus test of naiveté).

Myth #56: There is no crime rate in medicine (Normally expressed by saying, "What do you mean 'Crime rate in medicine?'.")

Myth #57: Health Care Professionals are not flawed, myopic humans dangerously believing themselves to be objective and above self-interest.

Myth #58: Patient advocates in the employ of medicine advocate for patients.

Myth #59: Hospitals operate in the interests of patients (see Yinka).

Myth #60: Health Care Professional who have followed the best practices recommended for their particular niches have done all that reasonably can be expected of them.

Myth #61: Most of the problems harming patients are no one's fault. They are innocent, unavoidable errors, or perhaps problems with systems that need tweaking, or issues with equipment or communication (see nequamitis).

Myth #62: It is possible for patients to give informed consent without having impartial information about the success rates of caregivers and treatments and facilities (see Myth #2 and 5%).

Myth #63: No important areas of the world created for patients by caregivers remain off screen for caregivers.

Myth #64: Patients want to let caregivers make all the decisions for them.

Myth #65: Health Care Professionals do not let personal interests influence patient care (conflict of interest).

Myth #66: Root Cause Analysis (RCA) can work in medicine like it did in aviation (see RCA).

Myth #67: Regulation, management, incentives, culture changes and other behavior modification techniques can make medicine safe (dead horse).

Myth #68: No one in medicine reframes their beliefs and depictions of events to suit their own purposes.

Myth #69:  Good processes necessarily produce good results so there is no need to measure outcomes (see metal on metal hip replacements).

Myth #70: The treatment providing community does not find ways to believe that its self-interest is virtuous no matter what the cost to patients.

Myth #71: Health Care Workers can have faith in themselves and their colleagues to be objective and above letting self-interest influence their perceptions, beliefs and decisions (possibly the most destructive myth in medicine).

There were going to be ten, but apparently there is no end. I keep stopping and then stumbling on another one.

It is of life and death importance to patients for health care professionals to be aware of the differences between what they know and what they believe. So is their understanding of the differences between that and what they feel. They woefully lack such understanding. The study of this has been labeled "Theory of Mind" for those wanting to explore it further.