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 an indicator for the diagnosis of a medical condition or disease and /or as a red flag (warning) for more attention and appropriate action.
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.