Laurie's Blog


02 Jul 2017

Beware of the Definitive Diagnosis Trap


I came across the following:


Beware believing or giving a definite diagnoses. 

It might ossify your approach & (by default) your treatments.

Ossified Diagnoses : Everyone Loses.

Adaptive Diagnoses : Everyone Smartens.


It was a blog post.  Just 4 lines!  But how very profound!  


Firstly, I do think that when you go to treat, you need to be working from some sort of a diagnosis, even if it’s just a working diagnosis or a presumed diagnosis, and always by looking at the functional limitations / issues and not just by naming an anatomical structure.  However, what this is saying, is that you need to also be willing to adapt, change, modify, or expand your diagnosis as you learn more.  And naturally, as we treat our patients, we do learn more, we see more, we acquire more pieces of the puzzle!  How the patient responds to our therapies helps to guide our thoughts and/or urges us to look deeper.  The old adage is you “peel the layers of the onion”, meaning that, as you find and treat issues, the deeper or underlying issues present themselves.    


If you were stuck on your original diagnosis, you might miss the secondary issues or the subsequently apparent issues.  You might not learn!


So, don’t be afraid to say “Right now, I THINK that this is what’s happening… but as we start to work with and treat that issue, we might learn more and find other underlying issues to treat.”


Short and sweet, eh?!  I’d love to hear your thoughts or experiences on this topic.






Tags: diagnosis trap , ossified diagnoses , adaptive diagnoses

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