the Mental Filter of Organisational Bias

withholding definition red flag professional behaviour from the pen of

Scroll down or click to read: 1️⃣ Definition 1️⃣.1️⃣ Confirmation bias infograph 2️⃣ Why the use of a mental filter is problematic 2️⃣.1️⃣ Mental Filter info-graph 3️⃣ Mental Filter info-graph 4️⃣ How to limit the use of the mental filter 5️⃣ Links to the Ockden and Elizabeth Dixon Report. 6️⃣ Stop the use of mental filter Legislation

1️⃣ Definition

Mental filtering is the art of sifting through all of the information without realising that you are doing this, to find content that supports the ideas and beliefs of the professional and/or organisation.  It is sometimes a combination of mental shortcuts, confirmation and organisational bias.

1️⃣.1️⃣ Confirmation Bias Info-Graph

confirmation bias in the nhs complaints process

The brain uses a mental filter, also known as a heuristic. When your brain needs to make a decision quickly but doesn’t know all the facts and stats yet. It will make a ‘mental filter’ decision that on the balance of probabilities will probably be the right one. Except, if this is combined with confirmation and organisational bias, it is unlikely that the decision will be correct.

It can be thought of a complaint handler

investigating using only ‘selective‘ facts to make a decision because:

Professionals who hold a lot of clout, such as doctors, telling their teams and colleagues that one type of data is ‘more accurate’ than from another source.

Say for example your well researched and referenced body of facts is less accurate

than an off the cuff opinion from a healthcare professional. Rather than the objective way of defining the accuracy of the data based on it’s merits.


▶️ easier,

▶️ quicker and

▶️ With no fear of being singled out by your colleagues or supervisors and shamed for taking a different approach to the rest of the team.

▶️ probably more enjoyable to sit down and discuss the technical side of the complaint with a colleague.

Than to trawl through the concepts of the individuals complaint and check the references for accuracy.

2️⃣ Why the use of a mental filter is problematic?

▶️ They might miss information that could disprove their ‘theory, and support that your version of events is correct.

7 tips to reduce mental filter of organisational bias error

▶️ If this bias results in wrong decisions. Once implemented, these decisions cannot be undone without impacting negatively on their reputation. Many service providers still think their best protection is to hire people who will deny any wrongdoing to uphold their good name. 

▶️ This often includes reconstructing the reality of the information to a dimension where you are solely to blame for the chain of events.

2️⃣.1️⃣ Mental filter info-graph

mental filter infograph red flag professional behaviour from the pen of
click on image to make bigger.

2️⃣.2️⃣ Bias can be a conscious or unconscious act. So when NHS complaint handlers, Regulators & Commissioners operate upon the assumption that you are irrational, unreliable or uneducated. This is biased behaviour that allows them to use the ‘Mental Filter’ to discount information from you.

mental filter red flag professional behaviour example
The mental filter in action

Using the same ‘Mental Filtering’ of information process. But this time they assume all ‘decisions’ made by educated, rationale Healthcare Professionals are ‘reliable’. 

3️⃣ Mental Filtering of information includes:

▶️ Paying attention to certain evidence.

▶️ Drawing conclusions based on just one part of a situation.

4️⃣ How to prevent this?

As the use of the ‘Mental Filter’ in the decision making process is so widespread within the NHS, the NHS Regulators & the NHS Ombuds/ PHSO, it is so important to:

Start challenging the belief on social media and with organisations and healthcare professionals that:

▶️ They are helping you. They are doing a job and best practice would be for both parties to view the whole process as a treatment or investigation joint effort.

▶️ That it is unhelpful to find someone to blame and to view the process and outcome as a learning experience.

▶️ Stop the use of automatic professional deference.

▶️ That the only right way to do things is the Organisational way. And adopt the strategy that multiple points of view achieves the best possible outcome.

That is why it is so important to:

▶️ check the accuracy of your healthcare records. Via a Subject Access Request.

▶️ Then, if necessary, Amend your Medical Records.

6️⃣ To read about the Legislation meant to prevent your body of facts being filtered into the ‘anecdotal’ category.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email