Five conditions that a doctor can miss: the other diagnoses

Five conditions that a doctor can miss: the other diagnoses

Doctors are used to categorize different problems and they give them a name, a specific disease or a syndrome. Medical textbooks are a catalog of these entities, but there are other important “diagnoses”  around a patient during his or her stay in a hospital, some physical some psychological that have a direct influence on the final outcome.

We can enumerate at least five of these conditions:

  1. Malnutrition
  2. Pain
  3. Lack of social resources
  4. Disorder of swallowing
  5. Ability to walk


Webster dictionary defines this condition as “faulty nutrition due to inadequate or unbalanced intake of nutrients or their impaired assimilation or utilization”.  The proper disease or a treatment can be at the origin of a deterioration of the muscles and a lack of appetite, a situation with a definitive prognostic importance.

Doctors usually look for a sign or a symptom to describe a disease well defined in medical books, but the evaluation of the nutritional status is usually made in an “intuitive” way. Nowadays, the role of an endocrinologist and a nutritionist are key in the support of patients.


This symptom is probably the most common in every patient inside a hospital.  We have now in clinical practice a wide set of useful drugs with a different mechanism, but some patients still suffer with pain during his/her stay at the hospital. One important step to improve this situation is to ask specifically the characteristic of the pain, taking enough time to talk to the patient, and to use a visual scale to register the intensity of the pain.

Lack of social resources

A doctor can give the best  treatment to a patient, for instance the last immunotherapy for a lung cancer, but if the patient lives alone or isolated in the middle of the countryside, the possibility of a complication without a proper attention can be deleterious for the patient.

Deglutory malfunction

Doctors focus in the disease of the patient, but there are more things around the health condition of the patient. The diagnosis could be “pneumonia”, but if you are not sure about the integrity of the deglutory process, your patient can be in big trouble. When we are healthy, we have the tendency to believe that the mechanism of deglution is fixed, what is clearly a wrong idea.

 Ability to walk

A doctor can treat an infection, we know that antibiotics  are very effective and they can cure . But, if your patient has been in bed for five days, can you be sure that he or she will be able to walk? Moreover, the combination of the use of sedative drugs and the loss of leg strength is the perfect combination for a fall.

Author: Lorenzo Alonso