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Segen's Medical Dictionary. © 2012 Farlex, Inc. All rights reserved.
Sutton's lawDecision-making A guideline evoked to temper the enthusiasm of externs–US medical students in their 3rd and 4th yrs of school–and other novices in clinical medicine, who want to 'work up' a condition–eg, an acute abdomen for porphyria, metastatic medulloblastoma or other esoterica, while ignoring a particular symptom's more common causes; the 'law' is attributed to the noted bank robber, Willie Sutton who, when asked why he robbed banks, reportedly replied, '..that's where the money is'; to apply Sutton's law then, is to search for the most likely cause of a symptom–ie, to go where the 'money' is. See Hoofbeats. Cf Red herring, 'Zebras. '.
McGraw-Hill Concise Dictionary of Modern Medicine. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
[William "Willie" Sutton, U.S. career criminal and bankrobber, 1901–1980]
A method of diagnostic reasoning that states one should look for diseases where they are most likely to be (such as malaria in tropical areas that harbor Anopheles mosquitoes; atherosclerosis in patients who are smokers, hypertensives, or diabetics). The law is attributed to Willie Sutton, who, when asked why he robbed banks, said, “Because that's where the money is.”
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