Psychiatric diagnostic uncertainty: Challenges to patient-centered care

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In this case and commentary, a patient's request to be treated for depression without a stigmatizing diagnostic label of bipolar II disorder challenges a clinician's obligation to provide a clinically and ethically appropriate diagnosis and safe treatment consistent with the patient's family medical history. Sensitively recognizing and responding to patients' concerns and values, even when they might conflict with the delivery of reasonable psychiatric care, is essential when gauging the appropriateness of such therapeutic practices. Furthermore, developing honest and open communication; recognizing that patients, like some psychiatric diagnoses, do not fit into discrete boundaries or cannot be categorized by a single label; and placing the patient at the center of care can all serve to resolve value conflicts, protect patient privacy, and promote accurate diagnostic and treatment practices.




Aultman, J. M. (2016). Psychiatric diagnostic uncertainty: Challenges to patient-centered care. AMA Journal of Ethics, 18(6), 579–586.

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