Monday, February 25, 2013
Fundamental Attribution Error In Hospitals
I was looking through some social psychology websites and one gave a link to a nursing forum discussing fundamental attribution error in hospitals. Not only is it being used against patients, but it is also being used in a way that affects the nurse's live and careers. The author gives the example of the student who is suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome. She is asleep in class, but she doesn't have much control over it. Her instructor and her peers see it as laziness, but they don't understand the student's context.
Another example given is that of a nurse who is messing up his medication to two units of patients. His supervisor only thinks that he is lacking concentration. He probably has seen people screw up before, and might just use that as a conclusion. He isn't aware that the nurse is being overworked in an understaffed hospital. While it is bad that medication is being mixed up, it is also fair to see that the nurse is being overworked in an understaffed hospital.
The third example is of a patient. She suffers from COPD, and this causes her to want to know if someone is there for her The nurses think that she is just being bothersome, so they tend to ignore her. Her circumstances should alert the nurses that ignoring her won't help her calls to them.
Fundamental attribution error isn't just some misinformed social critique. It can also spill into all of our lives, and affect our health. Jumping to conclusions can have dire consequences. Hospitals are a good example. In a field filled with emergencies that require quick response time, people might end up having and attribution error. In our modern day healthcare system, I only hope that medical professionals are being trained to observe a patient as an individual and not categorize them.