Occam’s razor is a well-known logical principle often applied in medicine. It states that the simplest explanation for a complaint or symptom is usually the correct one. Most of the time, Occam’s razor serves the diagnostician well, but when the actual problem is complex or unexpected, patients can be sent down expensive and even life-threatening diagnostic rabbit holes.
A friend of mine is an 80-pack-a-year smoker. He was complaining of shortness of breath, worsening over a couple of months, and his primary care physician sent him to a pulmonologist. The assumption was that the shortness of breath was related to COPD from his chronic smoking — and that indeed would have been the most likely explanation. Read more »