Too Much Trust in Tests

US doctors order more than 4 billion tests annually, and rely on the results to make life-or-death decisions. But many don’t grasp the tests’ fallibility, or the concepts of risk and probability—particularly with regard to false positives, writes Daniel Morgan of the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

5 of every 1,000 women who receive a false-positive breast cancer result will be told they have the disease. In Morgan’s own research, 80% of doctors overestimated the benefits of tests and treatments.  

Doctors must be better-educated on the matter, while patients should acknowledge that doctors “may have a blind spot.”

The Washington Post (Commentary)

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