Gut vs. Science: When a Patient Presents with Chest Pain

APRIL 03, 2017
Caitlyn Fitzpatrick

Chest pain can be cardiac in nature, but then again, it might not be. Deciphering between the two is incredibly important, and sometimes patients head to their primary care physician instead of going to the emergency department or calling 911. When that happens, how much does a doctor’s gut come into play before making the next step decision?
Robert Roswell, MD, assistant professor of medicine at the New York University (NYU) School of Medicine and director of the Cardiac Care Unit and Outpatient Cardiology at Bellevue Hospital, talked to MD Magazine about that very thing at the American College of Physicians Internal Medicine Meeting (ACP 2017) in San Diego, California.
“I think as physicians our gut goes into play a lot,” Roswell said, “and I think most of the time it’s a very good thing.”
However, Roswell recognized that sometimes a hunch can work against physicians. Myocardial infarction or cardiovascular disease, for example, might not present the same way in patient populations.
“I think it’s really important for all of us to acknowledge that we have instincts and hunches, but be sure that doesn’t really affect how we’re treating patients,” Roswell concluded.
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