Diagnostic Testing 101.1: The Importance of Sensitivity, Specificity and Diagnostic Test Accuracy

Michael has written a fine piece on the role of accuracy of diagnostic testing and the implications of using tests known to produce false positives in the PHP / Medical Board environment.

Disrupted Physician

To have striven, to have made an effort, to have been true to certain ideals — this alone is worth the struggle. We are here to add what we can to, not to get what we can from, life. – William Osler


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Diagnostic Medicine

Diagnostic medicine is the process of identifying the condition or disease that a patient has and  ruling out conditions or diseases the patient does not have through assessment of  the patient’s signs, symptoms, and results of various diagnostic tests.

Diagnostic Test Accuracy

Diagnostic test accuracy is simply the ability of the test to discriminate among alternative states of health (Zweig and Campbell, 1993).

If a test’s results do not differ between alternative states of health, then the test has insignificant accuracy; if the results do not overlap with other states of health then the test has perfect accuracy.  Most tests accuracies fall between these two extremes.

The intrinsic accuracy of…

View original post 1,791 more words

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