• Question: Have you ever had a patient that you haven't been able to diagnose?

    Asked by Lily + Jas to tuxfordmedicalteam, Philly, Gail on 12 Mar 2018.
    • Photo: Catherine Harrison

      Catherine Harrison answered on 12 Mar 2018:

      Yes! This happens often. Sometimes people have symptoms that remain unexplained despite lots of tests and trials of treatment. Dealing with uncertainty is part of the job. As long as serious problems are excluded, and the patient is safe, then sometimes we have to accept that we don’t have all the answers! Most patients can be reassured by normal tests and reassurance that nothing serious is going on.

    • Photo: Philippa Horner

      Philippa Horner answered on 14 Mar 2018:

      Yes absolutely! I’m still very junior but as healthcare professionals, we all learn every day we are a work. I’m a huge advocate of asking colleagues when you don’t know what’s going on with a patient – as that’s the only way you learn for next time. There will always be a team around you who you can ask when you are unsure.

    • Photo: Gail Allsopp

      Gail Allsopp answered on 14 Mar 2018:

      Even expert hospital consultants at the top of their field sometimes struggle so yes.
      I was looking after a patient in hospital last week who we couldn’t work out if they had a lung cancer or severe infection. Sometimes we have to wait…. treat one thing and see the response. Only time can answer the question sometimes unless you want invasive tests and sometimes life threatening tests. Nothing in life is 100% certain and that’s a hard lesson to learn. Not even in medicine.