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How Physicians Think: An Analysis of Medical Diagnosis and Treatment.

J. Park Biehl, MD
Arch Intern Med. 1966;117(5):727-728. doi:10.1001/archinte.1966.03870110119026.
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It is enlightening to consider the uses of "diagnosis" in medical practice. In earlier days it had a different meaning than it does now; it usually was arrived at in a rather arbitrary manner by an authority using personally derived methods. Being essentially irrefutable, diagnosis became absolute, and at times an end in itself. Today more precise methods are available to pinpoint exactly what is wrong. If, nothing more, such a scientific approach has revealed the falsity of earlier diagnostic methods, and it has also revealed the relative nature of diagnosis. Often an initial impression is changed several times in the course of studying a patient. Premature and compulsive labeling is to be avoided today. At times a specific diagnosis is not necessary for good care of the patient so long as the general area is understood and all treatable conditions are being considered. An ill-conceived and invalid diagnosis may


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