Medical Diagnostics for Engineers


The non-imaging medical diagnosis course provides a review and synthesis of information learned in the other required medical engineering courses and requires extensive reading in Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine, a highly regarded medical reference book. The student is taught how to extract a clinical quality differential diagnosis of common patient complaints.  Standard clinical practice is covered using organ system review as the organizing theme.  A patient complaint is selected from each organ system and a student presents his differential diagnosis to the class.  This allows the student to practice basic written (SOAP notes) and verbal clinical communication (case presentation) which so important in the practice of modern medicine.  The course does not emphasize memorization as a normal medical course would but instead emphasizes the use of medical reference look-up as a way to obtain clinical knowledge rapidly.  The course stresses the importance of looking at each patient complaint from a comprehensive prospective before focusing on a specific diagnosis.  For example, chest pain is not always caused by the heart but also stomach, lungs and chest wall to name a few.  As an engineer designing ultrasound equipment, the more global view of the chest pain complaint may result in more “solutions” from the same piece of medical equipment. 


Topics covered in this course are contained in the attached syllabus, which essentially covers much of the material presented during the second year of medical school in a survey form.  The required reading is extensive covering approximately 300 pages of material a week.  The course material for the course are all new since this course is taught from a completely different perspective than a normal medical course.  The material was well received by the students and will continue to be refined in future years.


Non Imaging Diagnostic Medicine Learning Objectives

      Be able to use a medical text as a resource

      Be able to take and document a clinical history

      Be able to perform a simple physical exam

      Be able to construct a differential diagnosis (DDx)

      Understand the non-imaging diagnostic tools used in medicine such as labs, ECG, cultures, pathology specimens.

      Understand the importance of history, physical, labs and pathology in obtaining a diagnosis for determining the DDx and treatment (Tx) of common complaints

      Understanding the algorithms of modern medicine

    avoiding zebras

    emergency protocols and the importance of rapid evaluation and treatment of conditions in emergencies

    “standard of care” and how it is determined