GRADUATE MEDICAL EDUCATION
Sutton’s law is a popular “guideline” evoked to temper the enthusiasm of externs–US medical students in their 3rd and 4th years of school–and other novices in clinical medicine, who want to work up a condition–e.g., 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 (1901-1980) who, when asked why he robbed banks, reportedly replied, “…because that’s where the money is” (Sutton claimed he didn’t say it, but who cares? PT Barnum never said, There’s a sucker born every minute). To apply Sutton’s law then, is to search for the most likely cause of a symptom–i.e., go where the “money” is