What Is a Provisional Diagnosis?

A provisional diagnosis is a medical diagnosis made by a physician based on the current information available. When first presented with a case, a doctor makes a provisional diagnosis; additional tests or information are required before an exact diagnosis can be determined.

Provisional meaning existing until it is replaced permanently. Ideally, a provisional diagnosis becomes a definitive diagnosis following initial testing and the collection of more data. In certain instances, doctors may provide a differential diagnosis based on the patient’s symptoms to eliminate each possibility individually in an attempt to diagnose the patient.


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