To quote a post from: http://allnurses.com/general-nursing...en-409037.html
"Jul 19, '09 by swirlything
The previous post is correct. I'd like to add that nursing diagnosis have to do with things that nurses have autonomy to take action about.
For example, bacterial pneumonia is a medical diagnosis. A medical practitioner can diagnose and treat pneumonia with, for example, antibiotics.
Altered airway clearance (inability to clear secretions from the airway) is a nursing diagnosis. It is a human response to the medical condition of pneumonia. It is a condition that an RN can treat autonomously (without need of an order from the doctor) through things like positioning and suctioning.
As the previous poster said. Nurses do not treat diseases (though they carry out some treatments on behalf of the doctor). Nurses treat all the human response to those diseases... including physical, mental, and spiritual responses."
Would a nurse have to, or be able to, make educated inferences based on symptoms in order to delineate a care plan for this "nursing diagnosis" (I don't like that phrase) of "altered airway clearance," or wait until a medical diagnosis is given. What if the situation is emergent and no medical diagnosis is possible?