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October 25, 1995

Surgical Intuition: What It Is and How to Get It

Author Affiliations

State University of New York at Stony Brook

JAMA. 1995;274(16):1314-1315. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03530160066042

Surgical Intuition completes the trilogy launched by the senior author, who unfortunately died before its publication. The first volume was Surgical Secrets. The second volume, Surgical Scripts, went to press the day he died. This final book is the culmination of ideas Dr Abernathy developed over a long period. In collaboration with Robert M. Hamm, a cognitive psychologist, he attempts to explain how clinical surgeons think and how most effectively to teach this to others. Abernathy was attempting to formulate a paradigm to both explain and teach decision making and diagnosis. He considered three general methods.

The decision analysis method he found too analytical, and although there was some support for this model and even a Society for Medical Decision Making, Abernathy believed it did not truly capture the way medical experts thought. He attributed this to three factors: "(1) doctors do not immediately know how to do it; (2)

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