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January 25, 1971

Differential Diagnosis: The Interpretation of Clinical Evidence

Author Affiliations

University of Illinois Chicago


by A. McGehee Harvey and James Bordley III, ed 2; 1,238 pp, $27, Canada $29.20, Philadelphia, Toronto and London: W. B. Saunders Co., 1970.

JAMA. 1971;215(4):645. doi:10.1001/jama.1971.03180170079035

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The interpretation of clinical evidence is what this book is all about. If you can do it well, you're a doctor. If you can't, you're not.

How to learn the interpretation of clinical evidence? The learning has several facets. First in line is acquiring familiarity with the disorders we call disease, to become aware of the possibilities; to program our brains for certain types of input when we hear the story and see the picture presented by the patient. For this there are the traditional textbooks.

Next is the elicitation of additional facts which point the way to a particular diagnosis. In our thinking, these facts are assigned various degrees of significance according to the frequency with which they are associated with disease, and according to the specificity with which they, either singly or in certain combinations, are associated with recognized nosologic entities. Added to this are other facts gathered