One of the consistent complaints that we here at Futterman, Sirotkin & Seinfeld, LLP hear from clients in Queens is that it is so difficult to understand medical jargon. Thus, when trying to determine whether the problems associated with their medical care were indeed due to provider errors, it is often challenging to interpret the information in their medical records. For example, when you think of the word “diagnosis,” you are actually thinking of a definitive diagnosis. That is the answer doctors have after doing an actual workup on you. However, it is often difficult for providers to come to a definitive diagnosis (even with the assistance of diagnostic testing). That is when other types of diagnoses come into play.
According to the online medical board Verywell, provisional diagnoses and differential diagnoses are also commonly referenced in healthcare. A provisional diagnosis essentially represents a doctor’s best guess based on the information he or she already has. It indicates a need for further testing (even going so far as to list provisional in parenthesis next to the diagnosis). A differential diagnosis means that your condition could potentially be one of a specified few.
An example of the use of different types of diagnoses would be if you present with severe chest pain. The doctor believes it may due to acid reflux, pancreatitis or possibly a heart attack. To be safe, you are given nitroglycerin to relax your blood vessels and restore blood flow (a common heart attack treatment). This, however, causes you a severe headache rather than soothing your chest pain. An administration of antacid, however, causes the pain to go away. Your treatment confirms that you likely had acid reflux, which becomes your definitive diagnosis.
More information on understanding the diagnostic process can be found here on our site.