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How differential diagnoses prevent erroneous diagnoses

| Nov 18, 2018 | Failure to Diagnose

Going to the doctor can be an overwhelming experience for a Houston resident. On top of having an injury or illness, they may have to submit to questions, testing, and assessments regarding their overall health. Many doctors use extensive information-finding tools to determine the precise causes of concern in their patients.

As a doctor builds their inventory of information about a patient’s case, they may compile a differential diagnosis list. A differential diagnosis list includes all of the possible causes of a patient’s complaints and ranks them in order of most likely to least likely. For example, if a patient goes to their doctor for neck pain, their differential diagnosis list may rank a pulled muscle over cancer as the cause of their discomfort.

A doctor may then begin working through their differential diagnosis list to determine the precise cause of their patient’s issue. As they work through the list they may be able to eliminate possible diagnoses based on the information they collect. As they find out more and more about their patient their confidence and accuracy in diagnosing the patient’s ailment may become stronger.

Using differential diagnoses does not guarantee that a doctor will get a diagnosis right, but it does help them act with reasonable care to provide their patient with a suitable treatment. A doctor who jumps to a diagnosis without exercising due diligence or learning enough about their patient may make an erroneous diagnosis and set their patient up to have a worsened condition or a delay in their treatment. Patients who suffer harm from diagnostic mistakes may have legal rights to compensation for the medical malpractice committed by their doctors.

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