Diagnostic thinking about everyday ailments

Friday, November 4th, 2016

Stolper CF, Van de Wiel MWJ, Van Royen P. Diagnostic thinking about everyday ailments. Huisarts Wet 2016;59(11):478-81.

Everyday, or minor, ailments are those that are not chronic, acute, or potentially life-threatening. Because general practitioners can think in terms of prognosis, they are able to distinguish between minor ailments and less common, serious diseases that almost always require intervention. General practice medicine is characterized by a certain degree of diagnostic uncertainty. This article approaches the diagnostic process from three perspectives: psychological, decision-making, and a combination of the two. Skilled intuition and contextual knowledge are powerful tools that allow GPs to make diagnostic or prognostic decisions with a certain degree of certainty. Mistakes can be made, and this article shows where they might occur and how they can be avoided. Diagnostic uncertainty can have a positive role, in that explicit feedback about diagnostic decisions and disease management fosters the development of expertise. (Read more).