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Trusting Your (Doctor’s) Gut Feeling

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Researchers in Belgium and at England’s Oxford University have given credence to the notion that a “gut feeling” something’s not right with your child can be as important for doctors as it is for the child’s parents. Researchers found that in cases when doctors assessed children and relied on certain gut instincts, such as the child’s altered appearance or a parent’s insistence the child was sicker than normal, this sometimes led to a diagnosis of a serious infection and even hospitalization. This was true, the researchers noted, even when the children did not present other important clinical symptoms such as high fevers, rashes or pronounced coughs.

The researchers concluded that discussions of “gut feelings” should actually be part of medical training. The study, which was recently reported on BMJ.com, could also be interpreted as a call for parents to trust their own gut and be more persistent with clinicians when something seems “not right” with their child’s health.

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