The Good Doctor: Why Medical Uncertainty Matters

December 2, 2020
The Good Doctor: Why Medical Uncertainty Matters

What makes a good doctor? It's not what you think. Adoctor willing to face their own uncertainty in the face of illnessand treatment might just be the best medicine.Too often we choose the wrong doctor for the wrong reasons. Itdoesn't have to be that way. In The Good Doctor, Ken Brigham, MD,and Michael M.E. Johns, MD, argue that we need to change the way wethink about health care if we want to be the healthiest we can be.Counterintuitive as it may seem, uncertainty is integralto medicine, and you want a doctor who knows that: someone who seesyou as the unique case you are, someone who knows that data isn'teverything, someone who is able to change her mind as theinformation changes. For too long we've clung to the myth of theinfallible doctor—one who assuredly tells us this is what's wrongand here is how I will cure you—and our health has suffered for it.Brigham and Johns propose a new model of medicine, one that iscomfortable with ambiguity and that centers on an equal partnershipbetween patient and doctor. Uncertainty, properly embraced, opens anew universe of possibilities.