Emergency rooms (ERs) are known to be extremely busy departments with long waiting times and overburdened medical staff. Patients are usually already in serious medical distress on arrival at an ER.
The Importance of Differential Diagnosis in ERs
Emergency room facilities are very different from routine medical settings. An ER physician usually makes a differential diagnosis. This is a type of diagnostic technique that is based on the elimination method (ruling out certain medical conditions to establish an accurate diagnosis).To determine a differential diagnosis, the physician and their team will first compile a list of all potential conditions that may be the cause of the patient’s situation. They will then work down the list, eliminating certain medical scenarios that are unlikely in the case.
This helps in narrowing down the possible origin of the ailment. The physician may also need to perform certain types of diagnostic assessments and tests. Mistakes in differential diagnosis, delayed diagnosis, or failure to diagnose can have devastating consequences for a patient who is experiencing an emergency life-threatening condition. Sometimes a delay of minutes due to emergency room negligence or incompetence can prove to be catastrophic for the patient.