It was pounded into our heads in Paramedic school that we do not diagnose.  Only Doctors can diagnose and we are not Doctors, so it seemed straight forward.

Then I went on a call.

I diagnosed.  Then I treated based on that diagnosis.

I violated one of the unwritten rules and it worked.  Go figure.

Websters reminds us that diagnose has a rather clear cut definition:

“The act or process of identifying or determining the nature and cause of a disease or injury through evaluation of patient history, examination, and review of laboratory data.

The opinion derived from such an evaluation.”
I can hear them now…”But you don’t evaluate lab data Mr happy Medic Man!”  I will assume the position that drawing blood for evaluation using specific diagnostic tools would count as lab data, so that’s out of the way.
In a recent conversation I was reminded that Paramedics can’t determine appropriate non ER facilities because they can not diagnose.  Yet that is all we do day in and day out.
Our education, training and experience all combine to put the puzzle pieces together and find what is wrong.  We use our tools and techniques to make those wrongs better and all because we have to start somewhere, we need to decide, we need to diagnose.
So the next time you are told not to diagnose, ask them what to call your evaluation of patient’s presentation, medical history and blood sugar reading.  While they’re thinking, sneak away.
Agree? Disagree? Have something to add? Why not leave a comment or subscribe to the RSS feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader?