Tuesday, March 25, 2008

When the Disease Eludes a Diagnosis

NYT Published: March 25, 2008
Why do doctors and patients often approach the diagnosis of disease so differently?

"...Part of the answer lies in the concept of triage — the notion, originated in wartime, of caring for the sickest and most salvageable patients first. Once they were saved, attention could be turned to less drastic cases.

A similar strategy has evolved in emergency rooms, where physicians are trained to “rule in” or “rule out” severe conditions. Thus, doctors immediately consider heart attacks or pulmonary embolisms for patients with chest pain, and intestinal rupture for those with abdominal pain.

But what happens when these conditions are ruled out? In such cases, doctors proceed to search for less dire (and, it must be said, more mundane) diagnoses. The trouble is that at this stage, some physicians, busy with other patients and duties, lose interest."

Books on Doctors as Patients and a few on the Doctor-Patient Relationship