Medical Signals

Medical Signals

Reynaldo O. Joson, MD, MHA, MHPEd, MSc Surg

March 4, 2015

Medical Signals are symptoms (something felt or observed by a person), signs (something discovered by a physician in a patient), and /or findings in diagnostic tests that serve as anindicator for the diagnosis of a medical condition or disease and /or as a red flag (warning) for more attention and appropriate action.

Examples:

Symptoms as medical signals (indicators for diagnosis):

Fever – usually a signal for inflammation or infection somewhere in the body

Cough – usually a signal for irritation in the upper parts of the respiratory tract such as throat

Signs as medical signals (indicators for diagnosis):

Presence of “murmur” on auscultation of the heart – usually a signal for a heart condition

Findings of a breast mass that has ill-defined border on palpation by a physician – usually a signal for breast cancer

Findings in diagnostic tests as medical signals (indicators for diagnosis):

Below normal hemoglobin level – a signal for anemia

Findings of a breast mass that has ill-defined border on ultrasound of the breasts  – usually a signal for breast cancer

Red-flag medical signals – all the above examples can be considered red-flag medical signals in the sense that they are warnings that need more attention and appropriate action.  Other bases for considering medical signals as red-flags are the following: if the symptoms and signs are severe; if there is a high probability that a medical disease is present in the findings of the examination of the physician and in the diagnostic tests; and if a serious medical disease is suspected.

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