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What Are Medical Findings?

Article Details
  • Written By: Nicole Etolen
  • Edited By: M. C. Hughes
  • Last Modified Date: 08 July 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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Medical findings are the conclusion that a medical team makes regarding a patient’s illness or condition after examining all evidence relating to that patient’s case. The evidence typically includes a combination of conversations with the patient, physical examinations, and diagnostic tests. The term may also apply to the results of a clinical study or other medical research.

One of the most important steps in treating patients is properly diagnosing their condition. While some symptoms point to a specific condition, making diagnostics easier, others can be more challenging to pinpoint the origin. Until medical findings point to the cause of a condition, doctors can generally only treat the symptoms. In some cases, such as with bacterial infections, an educated guess regarding the cause can allow doctors to determine the best course of treatment, but more complex disorders require a specific approach.

Determining the cause behind a patient’s illness requires examining several different types of evidence. Typically, the first step is performing a physical examination that focuses specifically on the areas causing symptoms. If a diagnosis cannot be made based on the exam, further tests may be ordered. These can include blood tests, laboratory cultures of bacteria found in or on the body, and imaging scans to look at the internal organs. Once all the evidence is gathered and evaluated, the medical findings are recorded and, if possible, the patient is treated.

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In some cases, a patient may have several symptoms that are characteristic traits of one illness, but still have one or more remaining symptoms that do not fit the diagnosis. These symptoms fall under the category of auxiliary, or secondary, medical findings. Additional testing may be required to find the underlying cause of the symptoms that do not fit with the primary diagnosis. When patients complain of multiple symptoms, medical teams must prioritize based on the symptoms that cause the most immediate threat to the patient’s well-being.

The outcome of clinical studies and other types of medical research are also presented as medical findings. New medications and treatment protocols typically undergo rigorous testing before they can be used in the field. Throughout each stage of the testing, researchers typically must present their findings to a specific agency or panel before proceeding to the next stage, especially if the research is backed by funding provided by a government grant or other organization.

Although medical findings are the result of extensive research and testing, they are not always absolutes. As additional symptoms or medical advances occur, medical teams must be prepared to adjust their findings to incorporate the new information with their previous findings. The process of treating illnesses is an ongoing one, both at an individual patient level and on the larger scale of medical research.

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