Differential Diagnosis

The term differential diagnosis is generally thought of as both a noun and verb by clinicians. The noun form of differential diagnosis is the list of all possible conditions that could explain the collection of signs, symptoms, and test results observed in a particular patient at a particular point in time. This list of conditions is organized from most likely (high on the list) to least likely (low on the list). The verb form of differential diagnosis is the medical decision-making process whereby this list is continually updated by eliminating conditions that are considered to be ruled out and adding conditions that may not have been previously considered based on the acquisition of new information. Conditions that remain on the list are also moved ...

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