Inspection as a clinical skill

More mistakes, many more, are made by not looking than by not knowing Sir William Jenner (1815-98)

General practitioners have an ideal opportunity to practise the art of careful observation and to notice all the signs and features characteristic of a patient from the time seen in the waiting room until the physical examination. We should be 'like Sherlock Holmes' in our analysis of the patient and accept the challenge of being astute diagnosticians and proud members of a noble profession. It is important to stand back (so to speak) and look at the patient's general appearance and demeanour. We should be assessing their mood and affect as much as their physical appearance.The first assessment to make is 'Does the patient look sick?'

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