What is diagnosis? Some critical reflections

Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 2 (3):319-329 (1981)
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Abstract

It is argued that the common definition of diagnosis as the determination of the nature of a disease is misleading. Many diagnoses are not the names of disease entities. This finding reflects the integral relation of the diagnostic task to the rest of clinical reasoning. Diagnosis has no separate goal of its own, in particular it does not have the goal of determining the nature of a disease. Instead, diagnosis contributes to the general goals of clinical medicine. Any attempt to model diagnostic reasoning abstracted from the rest of clinical reasoning will yield an inadequate representation of diagnosis. Such a distortion of medical reasoning will blind us to whatever implications an adequate epistemology of medicine may have for an understanding of the relation between theoretical and practical knowledge in other contexts.

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