Ethics: Decision Making Heuristics in Medical Practices


Decision-Making Heuristic

In the field of healthcare and medicine, the concept of a decision-making heuristic refers to a cognitive process, conscious or unconscious, whereby healthcare providers analyze selected information in a bid to form the best judgment or make the most efficient decision regarding a patient’s health (Marewski, & Gigerenzer, 2012). Some of the health critics claim that since the use of heuristics saves efforts, it may result in great errors as compared to making rational decisions. The use of heuristic decision-making in medicine can negatively affect the medical treatment or outcomes for women in various ways.

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Adverse Effect of Medical Treatment

Precisely, one negative effect of heuristic decision-making is inadequate representativeness, a situation whereby medical officers make erroneous conclusions by initial impression due to lack of adequate information. In most cases, these outcomes may become inaccurate, and it can result in erroneous ECG findings of ST-segment elevation due to the issue of early repolarization (Marewski, & Gigerenzer, 2012). Notably, this health problem is quite severe, especially among women, and it can cause erroneous diagnosis of acute MI amongst the young patients, which is a hard situation to diagnose. In such a case, women tend to suffer from an ST segment abnormality, which can result in depression.


A potential solution for the above medical issue is to increase awareness of heuristics. In most cases, physicians and medical officers tend not to think consciously about heuristic decision-making. Therefore, it is important to become more aware and develop a common vocabulary, which will assist in using them frequently (Rhodes, 2016) Therefore, teaching about heuristics to physicians will help healthcare professionals make effective medical decisions. Alternatively, patients should also be more involved in the decision-making process to avoid cases whereby their wish might not be fulfilled. However, these strategies will help in improving the process of decision-making heuristics in medical practices.

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  1. Marewski, J. N., & Gigerenzer, G. (2012). Heuristic decision making in medicine. Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, 14(1), 77–89.
  2. Rhodes, R. (2016) How to respond to knowledge about biases. The American Journal of Bioethics 16(5), 29-31.
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