Addicted Medical Professionals

Numbers are one thing. Like, 10-15% of medical professionals will, at some point in their lives, become involved in substance abuse. But as usual, numbers don’t quite tell the whole story. Check this out. In this rather lengthy post (No need to read all of it. Just skim!) what you will see is stories. Verbatim recounts of their problems from medical professionals who have gotten into trouble with alcohol and drugs. Focus on the words. You can feel the pain.  

As a pathetic aside, you will also learn some of the tricks that these professionals use to enable their addiction. Like the doctor who filled the windshield washer reservoir in his car with bourbon so that he could imbibe undetected as he drove from hospital to hospital. Or the doctor who agreed to make a house-call so that he could steal back the narcotics he had prescribed.

Bottom Line. In his seminal book, How Doctors Think,  Jerome Groopman makes a major contribution to our understanding of our physician customers. He helps us to understand that rather than going through a careful check list of diagnostic and treatment considerations, doctors actually use pattern recognition, often very quickly, to reach their diagnoses, and typically make prescribing decisions based primarily on habit. As my ThinkGen colleague Dr. Neale Martin puts it so succinctly, “Expertise is what happens when knowledge enters the Habitual Mind.”

BUT. This post helps us to understand that there are other forms of habits, addictions, that can play an unfortunately disruptive and important role in “How Doctors Think.”  We need to understand all of this if we are going to lay claim to being truly customer centric.  

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