Milo A. Puhan, MD; Johann Steurer, MD, MME; Lucas M. Bachmann, MD, PhD; Gerben ter Riet, MD, PhD
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Puhan M., Steurer J., Bachmann L., ter Riet G.; Variability in Diagnostic Probability Estimates. Ann Intern Med. 2004;141:578-579. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-141-7-200410050-00028
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 2004;141(7):578-579.
TO THE EDITOR:
Background: Diagnostic probability estimates are pivotal to the practice of medicine. Patients are entitled to receive justifiable diagnostic probabilities regardless of the physician they consult (1). It is believed that experienced physicians can accurately estimate the likelihood of different illnesses given a set of illness manifestations (2). However, this belief has rarely been tested empirically.
Objective: To assess interphysician variability in diagnostic probability estimates for 6 common illnesses early in the diagnostic process.
Methods and Findings: We surveyed 183 Swiss primary care physicians attending a conference on continuing medical education. The physicians had received at least 5 years of specialist training in family medicine (75%) or internal medicine (19%). Their average age was 48 years (interpercentile range, 10th to 90th percentile: 32 to 58 years), and they had an average of 21 years (interpercentile range, 10th to 90th percentile: 5 to 31 years) of experience.
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Print ISSN: 0003-4819 | Online ISSN: 1539-3704
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