Definition of an indication

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Imagine yourself in the following situation: You are in your hostel room talking to your roommates when suddenly there is a sharp scream coming from across the street. At first, you ignore the scream because it seems that you have grown accustomed to hearing such noises from the residents, who are mostly women. You all rush out to find a small crowd beginning to form at the door of the second room from the main entrance of the block. You decide to act concerned too so you head there alongside your roommates but you don’t forget to lock the room to secure your belongings. The latter refers to that one gas cylinder you all depend on to make your meals, a mini laptop that belongs to one of your three roommates who is a computer science student and a few personal items.

Back to the main story; you reach the scene and the first thing you notice is an unconscious lady lying at the center of the crowd. There is tension and it takes quite some time to get the entire story. Therefore, apparently, the lady in question is a new member of the room where the gathering is. She had lasted in the room for about one and half a week only for one of the roommates to come back from school and find her lying unconscious on the floor. She panicked and that was therefore the cause of the scream. The housekeeper is contacted immediately and in turn, she calls for the university ambulance. In the meantime, some ladies try to resuscitate the victim. Hugh! Eventually the ambulance arrives. The accompanying medical officer calls for a thorough search of the victim’s belongings for medical records or any other useful lead. In her school bag, some loose tablets in an envelope are found and issued to the medic. The latter states that those shall help determine the indication for which they were prescribed to provide necessary information for managing the case.

Uh huh! So, what is an indication? An indication is a sign, symptom or circumstance that points to the etiology, pathology, management or an outcome of an attack of an illness (MedicineNet). Etiology refers to the disease cause while the pathology is the disease progression. Indications help heath care providers select drugs appropriately to avoid hospitalizations, adverse reactions, lab tests and other unnecessary costs linked to wrong drug selection. Identification of indications helps optimize treatment outcomes by identifying drugs that provide synergy with other drugs for effective management of a given condition.

In the case at hand therefore, the medical officer will do his best to identify the medications found in possession by the patient. He will then link them to all the possible indications and finally make a differential diagnosis. A differential diagnosis is the process of assessing the possibility of a patient having one disease over another, which could be the cause of their present illness. As an example, the differential diagnosis of headache could be malaria, typhoid, a drug side effect, a bacterial infection or even mere fatigue. From the differential diagnosis, the medical officer will then rule out the possibilities and eventually come up with the exact cause of the unconsciousness that could be linked to the condition treated with the medications found.

Medical indications are categorized into two main types. The first type is the FDA approved indications, which refer to those conditions whose treatment or management by certain therapies is approved by the Food and Drug Act, an United State based agency that regulates policies regarding utilization of food and drug substances. An example is the use of paracetamol to treat headache. The second category of indications relates to those medically recognized but unlabeled conditions for which a given therapy is applicable. An indication provides qualifying conditions for a disease or condition to apply, drug acceptance level, rank of a drug in treatment of a particular condition, expected clinical result following drug use or lack thereof. In the case in reference, the condition ailing the patient will be inferred based on the drugs.

For instance, if the drugs found are indicated for treatment of diabetes or high blood sugars, the unconscious state of the patient may be attributed to have resulted from low blood sugar levels which could have occurred as a side effect of the drugs perhaps because the patient took medications while hungry producing a sudden drop in blood glucose.

Aside from the medical meaning, indication has other meanings. It is the act of pointing out; it is a mark or a token or a discovery made. Financially, it is a declared approximation of the price at which a traded security is likely to commence trading. It is therefore evident that the medical meaning of indication referred to in this case has its origin from the ordinary English meaning.


Medicine Net. Medical Definition of Indication. 13 5 2016. 14 April 2017.

February 01, 2023
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