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In Defense of Just Ordering the Damn Tests

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themighty.com

Horses, not zebras. It’s an expression hammered into medical students that when you hear hoof beats (a patient’s symptoms) you should think horses (common conditions) not zebras (less common, more difficult to discover conditions).

But how are they ever going to spot the zebras if they don’t even bother to look? Have you ever wished that your doctor would just order tests, if for no other reason than to rule out something?

If so, you need to know these two words: differential diagnosis. It means making a diagnosis by ruling out the other things that could be causing the patient’s issues.

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