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Physical Exam and Patient’s History in Establishing a Diagnosis

The healthcare experts use several resources during their medical assessments, such as cognitive evaluations, neurological tests, laboratory exams, patient history measures, and physical assessments. It is proved that the patient’s history and physical examinations are among the most valuable tools in determining diagnoses of various degrees. Several studies analyzed whether the applications of these tools provide a more accurate diagnosis during the first steps of the medical process.

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A physical (or clinical) examination is the process when a medical specialist examines a patient to find medical symptoms that would suggest the presence of a medical condition. Asif et al. (2017) present a case of extensive acute embolic strokes that helped them to highlight the importance of physical exams in determining a diagnosis. They report that “poor physical examination skills are a threat to patient safety as the probability of diagnostic errors and oversights is increased” (Asif et al., 2017, p. 4). Therefore, the use of clinical examination in cases similar to the scholars studied is imperative for the improved accuracy of a diagnosis.

However, there are other papers that evaluate the efficiency of a patient’s history and physical exams. According to Cook et al. (2020), the diagnosis of lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS) is often associated with these tools. Despite that “the patient history measures and the clinical findings/physical tests highly improved positive posttest probability by > 25% to diagnose LSS,” the analyzed studies mainly were heterogeneous (Cook et al., 2020, p. 93). This prevented the researchers from establishing the level of efficiency of the utilized tools. Another study by Khan et al. (2017) analyzes the use of feedback in assessing students’ accuracy while conducting an objective structured clinical examination and concluded that peer assessment improves reliability and promotes learning. Therefore, while the efficiency of a patient’s history stays unproven, the use of physical examination is important for establishing a diagnosis.

In conclusion, the isolated usage of the assessments tools reduces the quality of the medical process. The comprehensive and versatile set of measures guarantees the accuracy of the established diagnosis and the following treatment. Many scholars point out the need for further research in order to analyze the relationship between the utilized assessment tools and the accuracy with which medical experts prepare a patient’s treatment.

References

Asif, T., Mohiuddin, A., Hasan, B., & Pauly, R. R. (2017). Importance of thorough physical examination: a lost art. Cureus, 9(5). Web.

Cook, C. J., Cook, C. E., Reiman, M. P., Joshi, A. B., Richardson, W., & Garcia, A. N. (2020). Systematic review of diagnostic accuracy of patient history, clinical findings, and physical tests in the diagnosis of lumbar spinal stenosis. European Spine Journal, 29(1), 93-112. Web.

Khan, R., Payne, M. W., & Chahine, S. (2017). Peer assessment in the objective structured clinical examination: a scoping review. Medical Teacher, 39(7), 745-756. Web.

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StudyCorgi. (2022, December 11). Physical Exam and Patient’s History in Establishing a Diagnosis. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/physical-exam-and-patients-history-in-establishing-a-diagnosis/

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StudyCorgi. (2022) 'Physical Exam and Patient’s History in Establishing a Diagnosis'. 11 December.

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