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Title Digital Computer as Aid to Differential Diagnosis
Author(s) Martin Lipkin, MD; Ralph L. Engle, Jr., MD; B. J. Davis, MD; V. K. Zworykin, PhD; R. Ebald, AB; M. Sendrow, BS; C. Berkley
Source Archives of Internal Medicine, Vol. 108, Pages 56-72
Publication Date 1961
Abstract Because of the rapid increase of information used by physicians, and the potential difficulties in memory and correlation and transmission of data, an attempt was made to determine the feasibility of employing an electronic digital computer to handle data pertinent to differential diagnosis. Symptoms, physical signs, and laboratory data characterizing 20 hematologic diseases were compared with the data of 49 hospital cases with hematologic diagnoses. The differential diagnosis of each hospital case was written out. Information returned also stated whether all the findings needed to make a "positive diagnosis" of a disease were present in a hospital case. The presentation of a differential diagnosis list without a "positive diagnosis" resulted in a computer request for further work-up in an attempt to provide all the information needed to establish a "positive diagnosis." After computer analysis of 28 of the cases, the information returned stated that a "positive diagnosis" could be established. In each case, it corresponded to the diagnosis listed for the hospital case. In 13 cases, the information returned listed additional items of data which had to be tested in order to complete the differential diagnosis and establish a diagnosis. In 6 cases the information returned suggested reexamination of the data in order to establish a diagnosis. The information returned presented an accurate analysis of each case. With the method of analysis used, an incorrect "positive diagnosis" could not be returned if the data of the hospital case were correct. The results of the study indicate that computers can aid in obtaining information of value in differential diagnosis. It is believed that expansion of the present program should further test the usefulness of computers in this function.


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