Diagnosis is the identification of a condition, disease, disorder, or problem by systematic analysis of the personal data, symptoms, signs, test results, and other pertinent information of a patient. The end outcome of a diagnostic process is a label of the patient’s condition, disease, disorder or problem, which is also called a diagnosis or a diagnostic label.
Diagnosis or a diagnostic label can be initial, subsequent and final, meaning it can change over time. The initial impression commonly seen in the practice and usage of some physicians should strictly speaking, be the same as the initial diagnosis as the impression is derived from the same diagnostic process mentioned above. Initial impression or initial diagnosis is the one derived right after the first encounter with a patient. The bases for the terminology of “initial impression” are that it is the first (initial) and impression is used with the connotation that it may change over time when more information come it.
Diagnosis as mentioned can change over time in the course of management of a patient. It starts with initial then subsequent and then final. In the subsequent phase, the diagnosis is not limited to one change. It can be changed several times with justification until the final diagnosis is decided upon. Final diagnosis is one that the physician thinks is the last and the most certain diagnosis he is giving to the patient.
To summarize, impression should be the same as diagnosis if the standard diagnostic process is used. Initial impression is the same as initial diagnosis, again, if the standard diagnostic process is used. Final diagnosis is the one that the physician thinks is the last and most certain diagnosis he is giving to the patient.