283/365 – The danger of hope 

Let me be clear – this post is about the danger of hope, and the unscientific bias it can create, for doctors not patients. In my view, people with myasthenia need hope as much as they need medication to keep fighting the condition’s fluctuations. 

I came across a fascinating article today, The most critical factor in medicine? Human bias, which gave me empathy for all doctors and in particular my own consultant. 

The author oncologist Siddhartha Mukherjee writes:

‘Every science suffers from human biases. Even as we train machines to collect, store and manipulate data for us, humans are the final interpreters of that data. In medicine, the biases are particularly acute, not least because of hope: we want our medicines to work. Hope is a beautiful thing in medicine — its most tender center — but it is also the most dangerous.’

While the article specifically focuses on the issue for clear cut research results free from bias, the above made me think that I have been harsh at times in my critique of my consultant. The criticism has been around his scientific manner and his seeming inability to provide comfort or support. Sure there are others who are able to do both, and that would be ideal, but the article made me think about how he, and all other medics, must feel each time they crush hope. It highlighted how hard that must be to get used to and that I do not envy them the task in the slightest.

At least as a patient, hope can get you through the dark days. What is it that motivates specialists? 

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