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August 14, 2013

The Evolution of the Master Diagnostician

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco; and Medical Service, San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center
  • 2Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, Department of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; and Department of Medicine, Mount Sinai Hospital and University Health Network, Toronto
JAMA. 2013;310(6):579-580. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.7572

Patients seek answers to 3 basic questions. What (if anything) is wrong with me? Is there any treatment that might make me better? Will I recover? A physician’s ability to answer these questions requires skills as a diagnostician, therapist, and prognosticator. Excellent performance across all 3 domains separates great physicians from good ones, but among the triad, diagnosis is foundational. Without the correct diagnosis, proper therapy and accurate prognosis are rarely possible.