This is a term used in many walks of life, and the following may apply to all walks. But I want to focus on medical diagnosis.

Evidence is used to make a diagnosis, and the strength of evidence is ranked in certain legal opinion stages, HERE. The term, "diagnosis" is rich in categories, each with a spectrum of certainty. For practical purposes, the patient thinks of his her "disease diagnosis". Their "medical diagnosis" usually has many components:

  1. clinical
  2. imaging: findings by X-ray, "cat scan" (CT), PET scan, ultrasound, arteriogram, MRI, etc.
  3. lab test results (all can have false positive and false negative results, HERE)
  4. pathology exams
  5. electrophysiological
  6. genetic determination

For practical purposes in routine medical practice...but rarely explained to any patient, their personal medical diagnosis rests uneasily on a spectrum with two ends: (1) "provisional diagnosis" or "tentative" or "presumptive diagnosis", or "preliminary diagnosis" and (2) "definitive diagnosis". "I'm pretty sure"...(1)...is good enough in a large percentage of encounters for illnesses. As with the above legal opinion link, there are various ways to express degrees of certainty or uncertainty. Most "come and go" disease that is encountered is diagnosed and treated on a "provisional diagnosis" basis (such as a common cold). If you are not better in a few days or weeks, more effort and expense are put into your case to a more definitive diagnosis. In other instances (such as "I found a breast lump"), great care is taken to get a "definitive diagnosis".

As one can see on many TV shows about medical diagnosis (such as Diagnose Me [HERE]), patients can go nearly crazy trying to get to a certainty level of diagnosis that can result in a permanent cure. Drop the term DiagnoseMe into the Wikipedia search box and a few case examples will be found, HERE).

***Here is a page with info on how you might go about determining YOUR odd, ongoing problem [HERE].***

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[posted 15 November 2015]