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What is a differential diagnosis?

On Behalf of | Nov 28, 2019 | Medical Malpractice

Going to the doctor can be a stressful event for a New Jersey resident, even if they do not believe that their health is significantly compromised. They may be asked to submit to a battery of tests and may find the waiting for results to be both painful and unnerving. In the end, a patient may emerge from their doctor’s office with a new diagnosis and treatment plan that will hopefully alleviate their pain and suffering.

It can take a while for a doctor to arrive at a diagnosis for their patient, and that is often because the doctor has engaged in the differential diagnosis process. A differential diagnosis is a list of possible medical conditions that may be affecting a particular patient based on their symptoms and test results. For example, when a patient presents with a headache, their doctor may not immediately jump to a diagnosis of brain tumor without first ruling out stress, head trauma or other more regular causes.

The creation of a differential diagnosis allows a doctor to work through all possible diagnoses so that their assessment and treatment of a patient is comprehensive. Doctors who fail to use this process may miss diagnoses and may make misdiagnoses, leaving their patients unhealed and still in search of relief from their ailments.

Doctors are charged with caring for their patients and providing them with the medical support that they need to get better. While not all patients’ ailments can be remedied, many health issues can be reversed when doctors identify and treat the proper causes of their patients’ troubles. This post offers no medical or legal advice and readers are encouraged to speak with their medical malpractice lawyers about possible differential diagnosis errors committed by their doctors. Seeking legal recourses for medical malpractice could help an injured patient overcome the harm suffered.