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Diagnosing Disease: The Process of Detecting and Identifying Illness - Medical Histories, Physical Examination, Diagnostic Testing, Diagnosing Mental Illness, Second Opinions

diagnosis human care medicine

Diagnosis means finding the cause of a disorder, not just giving it a name.

—Sydney Walker III

The practice of medicine often is considered to be both science and art because identifying the underlying causes of disease and establishing a diagnosis require that health care practitioners use a combination of scientific method, intuition, and interpersonal (communication and human relations) skills. Diagnosis relies on the powers of observation; listening and communication skills; analytical ability; knowledge of human anatomy (structure and parts of the human body) and physiology (the functions and life processes of body systems); and an understanding of the natural course of illness.

The editors of the sixteenth edition of Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine (Eugene Braunwald et al., eds., New York: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2004) explain that diagnosis requires a logical approach to problem solving involving analysis and synthesis. In other words, health care practitioners must systematically break down the information they obtain from a patient's medical history, physical examination, and laboratory test results and then reassemble it into a pattern that fits a well-defined syndrome (a group of symptoms that collectively describe a disease).

Diagnosing Disease: The Process of Identifying the Causes of Illness - History Of A Patient's Health And Illness, Physical Examination, Diagnostic Testing [next] [back] Degenerative Diseases - Arthritis, Osteoporosis, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson's Disease, Alzheimer's Disease

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