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GeneralMay 17, 2021

Sports medicine experts warn that labelling patients' conditions can have an unintended 'dark side'

Clinicians who strive to attach diagnostic labels to their patients’ conditions should be aware that the practice can have an unintended ‘dark side’.

That is the message contained in a British Journal of Sports Medicine editorial, written by Daniel Jonah Friedman, from Alfred Health in Melbourne, Australia, and colleagues.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock
There is a dark side to the face of the diagnostic label, the BJSM editorial warns

The plus side of labelling

On the plus side, Dr Friedman and his two co-authors, Louise Tulloh and Karim M Khan, acknowledge that a diagnostic label ‘captures a textbook chapter’s worth of information’.

‘It helps characterise and organise people's conditions within definable boundaries. Just as a patient wants to find a cause for their woes, we clinicians pride ourselves on identifying it.’

The 'dark side'

There is a dark side to the face of the diagnostic label. A label implies that the clinician knows the specific tissue pathology that is causing pain or dysfunction [Daniel Jonah Friedman and colleagues]


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