- The time course of disease or its symptoms offer much more useful information about the timing of management than just the diagnosis itself
- It gives important clues about the likely pathological process
- A rapidly deteriorating course may necessitate interventions even before a clear diagnosis is reached. Resuscitation is a good example of this
- Similarly abrupt or rapidly evolving symptoms suggest a serious condition
- It offers prognostic value particularly if it doesn’t change in timely fashion with treatment
- It determines the likely disposition of the patient e.g. discharge, early followup, admission, transfer to ICU
Helpful questions to ask to determine chronology
- Did the symptoms build gradually over time or start suddenly?
- How much have the symptoms changed in severity since they started and over what time?
- What made you eventually decide to seek medical attention?
- Have you sought treatment previously and how quickly did it respond?