A medical diagnosis is a process of determining which disease or condition explains a person’s symptoms and signs. The information required for a diagnosis is typically collected from a patient’s history and physical examination. Often, one or more diagnostic procedures, such as medical tests, are also done during the process.
Obtaining an accurate diagnosis can sometimes be challenging because many signs and symptoms are nonspecific. For example, redness of the skin (erythema), by itself, is a sign of many disorders and thus does not tell the healthcare professional what is wrong. Thus differential diagnosis, in which several possible explanations are compared and contrasted, must be performed. This involves the correlation of various pieces of information followed by the recognition and differentiation of patterns. Occasionally the process is made easy by a sign or symptom (or a group of several) that is pathognomonic.
Diagnosis is a major component of the procedure of a doctor’s visit. From the point of view of statistics, the diagnostic procedure involves classification tests.
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