A patient's prognosis is usually optimum if a disorder is diagnosed and treated as early as possible. The process of diagnosis and treatment involves a number of steps. Each step is subject to some type of delay.

Step in the Therapeutic Process

Delay Type

time from the first symptoms to the first visit to a healthcare provider


time from first presentation to the primary care provider to making a referral to a specialist

primary care

time from the making of the referral to the first visit with the specialist


time from the first visit with the specialist to the time that the diagnosis made


time from the making of a diagnosis and starting of appropriate therapy



Patient delay may contribute to each step:

(1) failure to disclose symptoms to primary care provider

(2) failure to keep appointments

(3) failure to undergo tests

(4) refusal of therapy


The specialist delay may include:

(1) misdiagnosis

(2) therapy not targeting the true underlying condition

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