Limitations of the Solo Doctor

Would you trust a single person to run a complex system like a country? Of course not. Dictatorships don’t exactly have a good track record. There are still many complex fields though (like medicine) that have an over reliance on the individual. Individuals in certain fields have a huge amount of power over others. Here are two main points to consider.

Firstly, motivational bias; Adam Smith wrote in 1776 it’s with self-interest that any profession or trade operates. Sometimes incentives of the consumer and the provider line up, often they don’t. Relying on a single person exposes the consumer to pervasive motivational bias. Are physicians, dentists and surgeons more moral than butchers, brewers and bakers?

Secondly, there are limitations to human cognition. Every doctor or other medical professional is human. We’re all prone to biases and faulty heuristics. No matter how skilled an operator is, we’re blind to certain things. The worst part is we’re blind to that blindness.

A simple fix is to make sure there is always a team approach to decision making. Each and every case should be looked over by two more people. This reduces the amount of bias and limitations of individual cognition by some margin. The motivational bias and the error rates of a team would be far, far less than an individual dentist or GP diagnosing and treating solo.


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Max Ganhewa

Dentist

BDS Otago, NZ

Registered with AHPRA, Member of the Australian Dental Association, Victorian Dental Association, and Australian Endodontic Society, Invisalign certified,