Nonspecific Disease Presentation: The Emergency Department Perspective

  • Alexandra MalinovskaEmail author
  • Christian Nickel
  • Roland Bingisser


Older patients often present to the emergency department with nonspecific complaints (NSCs). In most cases, nonspecific complaints are caused by a variety of interacting underlying medical conditions. Nevertheless, analyses of the most common underlying conditions between several studies revealed a high consistency. NSCs are commonly caused by infections, water and electrolyte disorders, heart failure, anaemia, malignancies, and/or cognitive impairment. Because the underlying conditions are numerous, the diagnostic workup of patients presenting with NSCs is difficult. We show that classic diagnostic approaches such as history taking and physical examination in patients presenting with NSCs in the emergency department (ED) may not yield conclusive working hypotheses. To narrow down the wide array of differential diagnoses during workup, we propose to focus on the three most common groups of underlying conditions. Moreover, we provide some examples of group-specific characteristics.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alexandra Malinovska
    • 1
    Email author
  • Christian Nickel
    • 1
  • Roland Bingisser
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Emergency MedicineUniversity Hospital BaselBaselSwitzerland

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