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Multi-Disciplinary Discussion & Patient Diagnosis

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 In this blog post, we discuss the role of multidisciplinary discussion in the early diagnosis of Interstitial lung disease in patients with Autoimmune Rheumatic Diseases. From doctors to therapists, the use of a multitude of professionals is essential when it comes to solving complex health issues. We will also explore the benefits and challenges of using a team-based approach to provide patient care.


What is a Multidisciplinary diagnosis?

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with a serious illness, you know how important it is to get an accurate and timely diagnosis. But what if the first doctor you see doesn’t have all the answers?

That’s where the multidisciplinary discussion comes in. When doctors from different specialities meet to discuss a case, they can share their knowledge and expertise to develop a more accurate diagnosis.

Multidisciplinary discussion can be constructive when it comes to rare or complex diseases. By pooling their resources, doctors can often make a diagnosis they wouldn’t have been able to make on their own.

If you’re facing a severe illness, don’t hesitate to ask your doctor if a multidisciplinary discussion could help you get the necessary answers.

Benefits of multidisciplinary discussions for patients

Multidisciplinary discussions (MDDs) are when a group of health care professionals from different disciplines meets to discuss a patient’s care. This type of discussion can be very beneficial for patients as it allows for a more comprehensive approach to care. MDDs can help to improve communication between different disciplines, and they can also help to identify potential problems early on. This can lead to earlier diagnosis and treatment of conditions, ultimately improving patient outcomes. Types of conditions that you can discuss during MDDs. Many different types of conditions can be discussed during MDDs, including:

  • Chronic illnesses such as heart disease or diabetes;
  • Immunodeficiency disorders, such as lupus or HIV/AIDS; and
  • Psychiatric disorders, such as depression or dementia.

Who participates in Multidisciplinary Discussions?

Diverse professionals are essential in facilitating MDDs. These individuals can serve as resources for the patient and physician and include other health care professionals like social workers, nurse practitioners, family members and friends. 

A good resource often provides information about a person’s condition, treatment, and related issues that need to be discussed during MDDs. Each person’s input needs to be valued during this process. In addition, high-quality educational materials can help make the MDD process more meaningful for patients when they are used before an MDD is conducted. 

Educational materials should be organized according to the stages of the MDD process, clearly define the roles and responsibilities of each person involved, and clarify all information to be communicated during an MDD.

Role of patients in MDDs.

Patients may play several vital roles during MDDs. For example, they may provide information about their symptoms and experiences with their condition, explain how the condition impacts their lives, and even help identify other issues that need to be discussed. Therefore, each patient’s input needs to be valued during this process. In addition, patients may feel more in control of the process if they are permitted to take an active role.

Challenges for physicians

Physicians are trained to diagnose and treat diseases but don’t always have the time or opportunity to consult with colleagues from other disciplines. This can lead to diagnostic errors, particularly in the early detection of disease.

One way to improve early diagnosis is through a multidisciplinary discussion. For example, in an MDD, a group of physicians from different disciplines may meet to discuss a patient’s case. This allows for a more comprehensive review of the patient’s symptoms and history and can help identify potential areas of concern that a single physician might overlook.

MDDs can help diagnose rare diseases, as well as more common conditions. They can also help identify possible causes of unusual symptoms.

There are some challenges associated with MDDs, however:

  1. They can be time-consuming and may not be feasible in busy clinical settings.
  2. It can be challenging to get all the necessary specialists together in one place at one time.
  3. Not all physicians may be comfortable sharing information about their patients with colleagues.

Despite these challenges, MDDs offer a valuable opportunity for improving the early diagnosis of disease by allowing for a more comprehensive review of a patient’s health status.

Multidisciplinary discussion in Interstitial Lung Disease and Autoimmune Rheumatic Diseases 

Interstitial lung disease (ILD) is a heterogeneous group of more than 200 disorders that lead to diffuse pulmonary fibrosis. ILD can be idiopathic, meaning the cause is unknown, or it can be secondary to another condition, such as rheumatic diseases. 

Autoimmune Rheumatic Diseaes (ARDs) are a group of diseases that cause one’s immune system to attack a patient’s joints, muscles, and organs, including the lungs. As a result, ILD may be one of the first manifestations of ARD. In general, fifteen percent of nonspecific interstitial pneumonia patients are reported to have an underlying rheumatic disease. More specifically: according to a 2011 cohort study, 50% of patients in an ILD clinic were diagnosed with a form of ARD. ILD can also lead to idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, which still represents the most important cause of morbidity and mortality in these diseases and contribute significantly to the worsening quality of life in patients.

ILD can be challenging to diagnose because it shares symptoms with other respiratory conditions, such as COPD and asthma. Therefore, a multidisciplinary team approach involving pulmonologists, radiologists, and other specialists, is often required to make an accurate diagnosis. Fortunately, MDD is already considered the reference standard for diagnosing ILD.

Multidisciplinary discussion is critical for making an early diagnosis of ILD. By sharing information and working together, the team can more quickly identify the underlying cause of the disease and begin appropriate treatment. Sometimes, a patient’s symptoms may worsen quickly, becoming life-threatening. Thus, it is of the highest concern that doctors specialized in autoimmune diseases are consulted and regularly involved in discussions regarding ILD patients. Vice versa, it is important that ARD patients and general doctors are informed on the fact that ILD may arise from ARD. ISHEO promotes knowledge and supports experiences of collaboration between doctors, Patients’ Associations, and Institutions, in identifying a shared pathway for the early diagnosis of ILDs in MRA patients.

For example, if an ARD patient has ongoing severe shortness of breath and suspects their disease is causing complications, they should contact a doctor immediately. Thanks to multidisciplinary discussion, the suspected cause of this shortness of breath is ILD. Emergency chest CT scans can help identify ILD-related lung diseases in this situation. This can allow the team to diagnose and treat patients earlier, potentially saving lives. 


Multidisciplinary discussion helps early diagnosis of ARD and ILD by bringing together various perspectives to identify potential health problems. This type of discussion allows for a more comprehensive understanding and can lead to better decision-making about treatment options. When it comes to health, catching problems early is always best, which is no different in the case of ILD and ARD. With multidisciplinary discussions, patients who experience pulmonary health issues may be diagnosed with ARD more rapidly. Alternatively, patients who are diagnosed with ARD may be treated earlier for ILD because it may already be expected. If you think you may be experiencing a health issue, don’t hesitate to reach out to your healthcare team for a multidisciplinary discussion.