Indigestion or Heart Attack? Proper differential diagnosis by doctor

This interesting protocol in the medical field can literally save one’s life.  One day a man visits the ER with symptoms he thought consistent with indigestion, but he proceeds with prudent caution nonetheless.  The ER physician after a brief and superficial evaluation comes to the same conclusion.  “Ah…just spicy food my friend.”  The man proceeds to leave the hospital and drops dead due to a myocardial infarction otherwise known as a heart attack.  A reasonable person may say how would the doctor know what would occur several hours later without a crystal ball?  Well that is a fair point, however the million dollar question is whether the doctor performed all of the necessary tests and procedures t0 rule out all of the worst possibilities.  Well there is a common procedure to assist in avoiding such failure to diagnose.  It is knows as differential diagnosis which is taught in every medical school and can be found in every medical chart.  Differential diagnosis is the process by which medical professionals use to deal with uncertainty and doubt.  When there is uncertainty about what is wrong with a patient, differential diagnosis says the reasonable physician must first rule out the worst possibilities.  So for our patient who goes to the ER with chest pain after a heavy, spicy meal, its not enough to make a good guess that he has a mere case of indigestion.  The doctor should rule out the elephant in the room – the heart attack before sending the patient home.  Even with a normal EKG response, a physician should proceed with a proper execution of differential diagnosis as EKG responses come back normal half the time irrespective of there being something with the patient.

About Roland

Roland was born in Nashville, Tennessee and raised in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee. The first few years he resided in Paris, France with his mother who was French. In Hendersonville, he attended Beech Senior High School where played soccer and studied in the honors curriculum. Subsequently, he pursued two majors in political science and economics while graduating in three years.

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