Mature woman doctor

Research shows that within the first 18 seconds of an interview with a patient, a physician makes a preliminary diagnosis that guides their treatment plan. 

But what if they are wrong?

Studies also show that doctors fail to revisit this diagnosis and consider alternative possibilities.

This phenomenon, known as ‘anchoring bias,’ reveals that physicians rely too heavily on their first impressions and refuse to change their diagnosis, even when presented with new information. 

One study found doctors changed their diagnosis in only 12% of cases where the initial diagnosis was incorrect. Another study found doctors changed their diagnosis in only 18% of cases where new information contradicted the initial diagnosis.

The consequences of this bias in Lyme disease are dire. 

According to Daniel Cameron, MD, the former president of the International Lyme And Associated Disease Society, the average Lyme patient sees 5 doctors over nearly 2 years before receiving a proper diagnosis. 

In my clinical experience, this number represents a best-case scenario. Many of my patients report seeing a dozen or more practitioners over five years or more.

It is tragic and completely avoidable. 

By continually reassessing and adjusting treatment plans, you have the power to provide the most effective care possible for your clients. Don’t let anchoring bias stand in the way of true healing.

Take control of your patients’ care and be part of the solution. 

Upgrade your chronic Lyme skills today by visiting


  1. Croskerry, P. (2003). The importance of cognitive errors in diagnosis and strategies to minimize them. Academic Medicine, 78(8), 775-780.
  2. Graber, M. L., Franklin, N., & Gordon, R. (2005). Toward evidence-based medical diagnosis. Chest, 128(1), 397-406.
  3. Redelmeier, D. A., & Tversky, A. (1990). On the belief in the law of small numbers. Psychological Bulletin, 107(2), 76-81.
  4. Krogulecki, A. (2015). Anchoring bias in clinical decision making. Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice, 21(5), 878-885.
  5. Healey, J., & Levinson, W. (2011). Anchoring bias in medical decision making. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 26(5), 470-475.

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