FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2016

Doctors overestimate their Ebola assessment abilities

Doctors overestimate their Ebola assessment abilities. | Courtesy of sciencedaily.com
A recent survey of primary care physicians show that many of them overestimate their own abilities to assess potential Ebola cases and explain the risks of Ebola to their patients.

The survey, which was conducted in late 2014 and early 2015, shows that even though the doctors were confident, only between 50 percent and 70 percent of the physicians gave correct answers to the Ebola questions.

"Our findings demonstrate significant variation in how doctors make decisions in situations of uncertainty and show how decision-making can be shaped by geography, sources of information and other factors," Dr. Ishani Ganguli, of the MGH Department of Medicine, corresponding author of the report, said. "They suggest that we need to do a better job helping doctors on the front lines of patient care deal with future global epidemics."

The survey answers were measured against the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the questions included how the doctors would care for potential patients who may have had Ebola exposure.

"It could be that those not working in areas where they might encounter Ebola received less information from their institutions or local government sources, making them more fearful of the disease and more aggressive in evaluating potential cases," Ganguli said. "While 88 percent did report having consulted the CDC guidelines on Ebola at least once during the preceding year -- and the CDC was the most commonly cited source of information -- our results suggest the need to provide additional resources, like decision support hot lines."

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