Differential diagnosis and BMJ Best Practice
“When you hear hoofbeats, think of horses, not zebras.”
“When you hear hoofbeats, think of horses, not zebras.” This well-worn medical aphorism attributed to Dr Theodore E. Woodward addresses the clinician’s most essential skill—differential diagnosis. Drawing on all of a physician’s training, experience, and abilities—careful observation, interview skills, and evaluation of evidence—differential diagnosis is key to providing the best care to patients.
A busy clinician may find some welcome relief through the evidence-based decision support provided by Best Practice. The tool is available online through the College Library website (www.cpsbc.ca/library) or as an app for your tablet or smartphone.
Best Practice’s easy-to-read tabbed layout provides an overview of each disease module and allows the clinician to quickly select a subtopic of interest. Once in the module, select the Diagnosis tab and then the Differential Diagnosis link. The table is organized into common/uncommon diagnoses, and, within each category, from most to least frequently occurring conditions. The clear, well-organized layout allows physicians to view possible diagnoses at a glance and quickly prioritize the selection of any tests or treatments.
While nothing can replace the combination of a clinician’s experience and training, the differential diagnosis table in Best Practice can provide evidence-based support in a busy medical practice. For more information or assistance with downloading the app, please contact the College Library. We’re always happy to help!
This article is the opinion of the Library of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC and has not been peer reviewed by the BCMJ Editorial Board.
Paula Osachoff. Differential diagnosis and BMJ Best Practice. BCMJ, Vol. 59, No. 2, March, 2017, Page(s) 132 - College Library.
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Halpern SD, Ubel PA, Caplan AL, Marion DW, Palmer AM, Schiding JK, et al. Solid-organ transplantation in HIV-infected patients. N Engl J Med. 2002;347:284-7.
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