Are Patients Harmed When Physicians Explain Things Too Simply?

A quick quiz before we start today’s lesson.

What do we call a tree that grows from acorns?

What do we call a funny story?

What sound does a frog make?

What is another word for a cape?

What do we call the white part of an egg?

On that last question, were you tempted to answer “yolk?” If so, you are in good company, because most people give that answer even though the correct answer is “albumen.” People answer yolk – after oak, joke, croak, and cloak – because that’s the fast choice. Primed by rhymes, people provide the wrong answer.

Sometimes fast-thinking is not so good. Which raises an interesting question for physicians trying to help patients navigate important medical decisions Will they harm patients by explaining things so simply that patients make fast, erroneous choices? (To read the rest of this article, please visit Forbes.)

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.