In my previous blog, I spoke about the difference between presenting a patient with a difficult-to-diagnose disorder which already has been diagnosed and one that has yet to be diagnosed. The discussion of this problem sounds like a useless exercise, until comes the moment where you have to present your undiagnosed patient to colleagues.
In everyday life, we as doctors have become accustomed to dealing with the deficiencies in the case presentation by talking to the patients and examining them ourselves. But when it comes to presenting the case in a web-based discussion in front of a physician’s network, we have to choose a different way.
This point makes the quality of presentation a necessary condition for successfully brainstorming the right diagnostic assumption.
So how to present a medical case in a qualitative manner? Here are some tips:
- Defining the main problem- It is very important to define exactly what is the main health problem that the patient suffers from. If this problem is a symptom, it can be defined as the chief complaint bringing the sick person to the seek help from doctors. Sometimes, especially in children’s diseases, the finding that draws the attention of the parents and the doctor may be described in terms of a physical examination. Generally, in current medical practice, a finding defined as the main problem can arise from an imaging examination or laboratory tests.
- Be precise- It is very important to present the main problem meticulously, including the full details of its development. Whether it is a laboratory finding or a reference test result, it is extremely important to specify the test method. If you haven't found the main problem you defined in the website's search engine, do not despair. The engine is updated according to new cases that arise on the site. Defining the problem correctly allows the site’s staff to recommend you what are the crucial details required for solving the case. Completing these details allows experienced physicians to immediately identify diagnoses that are familiar to them. It makes it easier to diagnose the case for doctors who have treated a similar case and are familiar with them, or they realize that the case is truly unusual.
- The exceptional is the most important- its very important to mention in the case presentation all the findings that seemed as unusual. Especially when it comes to symptoms which can be documented such as a rash, walking disorder, unusual physique etc.
- Put your heart in it- Don’t forget that we are not discussing a medical case, we are talking about a patient! Tell us more about the person who is behind the medical mystery. Tell us about the patient and the suffering he is going through. Participating in the discussion is a time consuming job. In order to involve other doctors’ feelings and therefore dedicate their time and experience, you must certainly touch their hearts.
In the end, it is important to remember that presenting a patient with an unclear diagnosis is a question. So the accuracy of the answer, depends on how fully and adequately we ask our colleagues- how we formulate our problem.
If you want to practice and sharpen you diagnostic skills, or if you think you have a diagnostic talent and want to build you reputation in the field- try to diagnose one of our case challenges on NDC Medicine. We reward and promote doctors who help solve our challenging cases of real patients.