Tag Archives: diagnosis

122 Pathognomonic Signs

Pathognomonic: distinctively characteristic of a particular disease.

Pathognomonic signs are crucial to diagnosis! They will make your life much easier and are especially helpful when completing test questions.

Here is a video of 122 pathognomonic signs:


Excellent Resource – CDC Public Health Image Library (PHIL)

I recently stumbled upon the CDC Public Health Image Library (PHIL) and thought it would be an excellent resource to share with others. I’ll be adding it to the growing list of recommended websites for this blog as well.

Basically, you can use keywords to search through their image database and you’ll find a lot of pictures related to your criteria. It’s a very useful resource for anyone completing a presentation, research, etc. It’s also really nice to just look through images of stuff you’re learning about. For example, we covered tuberculosis today and a quick search yields pages and pages of pictures of cultures, X-rays, slides, lesions etc. It could be especially beneficial for any visual learners out there! Give it a try!

My New Favorite Healthcare App!

Usually I hate advertisements, quickly clicking the close button without giving them the time of day. However, I actually found my new favorite iPhone app through an advertisement on Facebook.

I highly recommend anyone interested in healthcare to download the app “Figure 1”. It’s essentially a social network to share healthcare related images amongst healthcare professionals. You can even create an account on the Figure 1 website if you don’t want to add the app to your phone.

Be sure to check it out!

Figure 1 Website

A Systematic Assessment of Pain – SOCRATES

The acronym SOCRATES can be used as a systematic method of assessment to complaints of pain. 

Site – Where is the pain located?

Onset – When did it start and how? Gradual, intermittent, rapid, etc.

Character – Describe the pain (stabbing, dull, tight, sore, etc.).

Radiation – Does the pain spread into other areas? 

Associated symptoms – Nausea, vomiting, jaundice, etc.

Timing – Does it occur after specific activities or actions? 

Exacerbating or relieving factors – What makes it worse? Breathing, moving, sitting, etc. 

Surgical history – Previous surgeries or interventions? 



Oxford American Handbook of Surgery 

Edited by David L. Berger, MD with Greg McLatchie, Neil Borley, & Joanna Chikwe

Oxford University Press, 2009.

The #1 Diagnostic Tool

The #1 diagnostic tool that a physician can employ is simply…. the patient’s story.

Oftentimes, physicians immediately begin their investigation by probing the patient with a general list of questions meant to quickly surmise the problem and in return, allow immediate interpretation of the problem. However, what if the problem isn’t quite so simple?

Misdiagnosis is an incredibly frequent phenomenon in the field of medicine, and it should be a top priority of a physician to reduce the incidence of misdiagnosis as much as possible. By allowing a patient to explain the entire situation leading up to the onset of their illness/injury, you will obtain much greater amount of information and probably more than is necessary. However, you will also be much less likely to immedately assume the most simplistic diagnosis available and undoubtedly reduce the number of inaccurate diagnoses. It’s understandable that some patients are less inclined to ramble about every detail of their problem and extreme introverts may avoid talking altogether. In such a situation, a physician must ensure that the questions are completely general in nature. A question should not coerce a patient to answer in a specific manner but should allow them to develop their own interpretation of the events leading up the illness/problem and the signs & symtpoms that accompany it.

However, it is also necessary for a physician to work as quickly as possible based on the frequently changing standards expected by them. Physicians are unable to spend an extended amount of time with a single patient due to pressing expectations that they see and treat as many patients as possible. This puts them ‘between a rock and a hard place’ so to speak in that the are expected to treat without error, yet as quickly as possible! Therefore, I am not saying a physician dedicate so much time to preventing misdiagnosis that he neglects other duties and falls behind his patient quota. Furthermore, I am not saying to order unneccessary tests ‘just to make sure’ as this would be time consuming, expensive, and possibly painful for the patient. However, it is important to maintain an open mind to the endless possibilities of ALL signs and symptoms a patient presents. Let the patient explain everything that is taking place before you make your decisions. In summary, just let the patient talk!

Quote of the Day

Taken from “Every Patient Tells a Story: Medical Mysteries and the Art of Diagnosis” by Lisa Sanders, MD.

“A man isn’t dead until he’s warm and dead.”


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