Diagnostic Categories

Authored by: Annemarie Jutel

The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Medicine

Print publication date:  October  2016
Online publication date:  October  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138846791
eBook ISBN: 9781315720739
Adobe ISBN: 9781317519850


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Diagnosis is at the heart of Western medicine and plays an important role in structuring care for the individual patient as well as in creating priorities and measuring outcomes for public health. It is usually in the pursuit of diagnosis that the layperson enters the medical system. Dysfunction or distress, determined by the sufferer to be medical in nature, is brought to the doctor for explication, and that explication is most frequently couched in diagnosis. The diagnosis, both a process and a category (Blaxter, 1978), organizes the symptoms, provides a sense of direction to the patient, points (hopefully) to a treatment, describes the future (prognosis), allocates resources (e.g., sick leave, prescriptions, insurance reimbursement), and even designates a social role to the newly diagnosed patient (Balint, 1964, Leder, 1990, Jutel, 2011).

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