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Differential Diagnosis DD process

Differential Diagnosis DD process

Differential Diagnosis

Differential diagnosis is defined as the process that a physician uses in differentiating between 2 or more conditions that may be the reason behind a person’s symptoms. When a diagnosis is made, a doctor may have a single theory as to the reason behind a person’s symptoms. The physician may proceed to order tests in order to confirm the suspected diagnosis. The information will be collected from the patient’s medical history, including symptoms the patient self-reports; findings from physical examinations; diagnostic testing (Satterly, 2020).

Three Different DD Processes Used in Clinical Practice and the Advantages and Disadvantages

A local anatomic approach is an approach where the physician thinks locally. If the complaint, for example, is abdominal, the physician will look into the present structures and which could be causing the pain. Checking inside the abdomen from the outside and then to the inside, in a systematic manner, will help narrow in on the issue. By thinking extensively about only one focus area rather than randomly thinking about the patient’s anatomy, the physician can come to specific conclusions. Once the physician lists all the possible causes, there will be one that fits in appropriately. Even when the physician does not know much about the illness, the name of the condition will help when looking up the same and treating the disease (Parnas, 2015).

In the systems approach, the physician takes a holistic exam of the entire body. This approach is appropriate in accessing causes of a coma, cough, and when the patient is vomiting. It is very extensive and may reveal other disease conditions not exhibited by the symptoms. The main limitation is that it is not always necessary for every presenting complaint (Parnas, 2015).

The third process is the mechanism approach, where the chief complaint is linked to endocrine, biochemical, or other pathways. The physician asks about the patient, how the processes normally occur, for example, the breakdown of bilirubin generation of RBCs, among others. The next question is where the problems can occur, with the answer usually being anywhere along the pathway, though certain steps are more likely to give problems. The main advantage is that it is detailed; however, it takes a fairly long time to conduct (Parnas, 2015).


Parnas, J. (2015). Differential diagnosis and current polythetic classification. World Psychiatry14(3), 284.

Satterly, L. B. (2020). Teaching Differential Diagnosis: Tool Box Techniques. The Journal of Physician Assistant Education31(2), 77-84.


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Differential Diagnosis DD process

Discussion Prompt
Discuss the differential diagnosis (DD) process. Identify 3 different DD processes used in clinical practice. Describe the risks/benefits of these 3 processes.

Responses to students should include an example of when the student identifies one of the differential diagnosis processes used in the clinical setting.

It is crucial to appropriately utilize APA 7th ed. All assignments; group work discussions and responses require accurate and appropriate APA citations. It is recommended to use nursing literature, medical literature and ancillary research in other disciplines as necessary. Current citations are required.

When possible evidence based literature and primary sources that are up to date and are most desirable. Works such as WebMD and the patient “self-help” resources are not appropriate for graduate discussions.

Initial Post:

  • Due:

    Differential Diagnosis DD process

    Differential Diagnosis DD process

  • Length: A minimum of 250 words, not including references
  • Citations: At least one high-level scholarly reference in APA from within the last 5 years

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