A provisional diagnosis is a medical diagnosis made by a specialist based on current facts. When a doctor is first presented with a case, he or she will provide a provisional diagnosis, indicating that more tests or information are needed before an actual diagnosis can be reached.
Provisional refers to something that exists until it is permanently replaced. After initial testing is completed and more information is acquired, a provisional diagnosis should ideally become an exact diagnosis. Doctors may provide a differential diagnosis in some situations, offering many scenarios based on the patient’s symptoms in order to rule out each possibility individually in an attempt to diagnose the patient.