What Is a Guarded Prognosis?

By Staff WriterLast Updated May 27, 2020 7:26:37 PM ET
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A prognosis is the doctor’s prediction for the outcome of a situation. Where does a prognosis come from? What factors does the doctor consider before giving the patient a prognosis? You may also wonder what it means if a doctor tells a patient or the patient’s family that the prognosis is guarded. Is it cause for concern?

What Are Prognoses Based On?

The doctor will base a prognosis on many factors. A prognosis is made based on more than the way the disease or illness typically works. It is also based on the individual’s current physical health and mental condition. A prognosis is based on the treatment options available, how long the condition will last, and if the health condition is declining.

Doctors are very good at making an accurate prognosis. They can use statistics and other information to make treatment decisions. They also learn based on the experiences of the patients they see each day.

The History of Prognosis

Hippocrates wrote one of the earliest written pieces about prognoses. He published the Book of Prognostics in about 400 B.C. Throughout history, many doctors who were unable to provide treatment for health conditions were only able to provide a prognosis. Curing disease is often considered a modern part of the medical framework.

A Guarded Prognosis

When a patient has a guarded prognosis, he or she has an acute illness. They have a questionable outlook. The chances for improvement are small. A doctor may use this term when he or she is unsure if the patient will be able to recover.

Many people think of a guarded prognosis as another way to say that the patient is in poor or serious condition. Meanwhile, an individual with a guarded prognosis may have stable vital signs right now, but their condition could worsen or improve.

Other Types of Prognoses

A good prognosis implies the patient will improve successfully. They will encounter few setbacks along the way. They will likely make a full recovery with little effect on the patient’s life.

A serious prognosis is less serious than a guarded prognosis. The individual may recover, but there is still a chance for other problems. They could face an infection that could become worse, for instance.

A patient with a critical prognosis is more serious than a patient with a guarded prognosis. The patient has a slight chance of recovery. The patient may be affected by the condition for the rest of his or her life.

Prognosis Outside the Medical Community

Outside of the medical community, prognosis is used frequently. Today, you might hear the term used to describe any situation with a predicted turn out. Economists often use the word to describe how well the economy is going. Scientists may also use the term to describe their estimates for climate change.

What Does Prognosis Tell Us?

Of course, prognosis is about more than predicting one’s likelihood of overcoming a disease or illness. It also tells the patient about their expectations for quality of life, potential for complications and life expectancy.