The physical and mental examination

If a diagnostic hypothesis based on the history is being tested, the examination may be confined to one system or to one anatomical region. However, other regions, systems or a general examination may be undertaken for medicolegal or preventive reasons. Patients tend to feel vulnerable during the physical examination; so their sensitivity and modesty have to be respected. Generally the examination is conducted in relative silence, with the doctor instructing the patient what to do. Patients need to be warned of possible discomfort or pain that may accompany certain examinations, of the reason for the examination, and of its immediate results particularly if normal. Continued silence on the doctor's part is often interpreted by patients as being indicative of something serious or unusual being found. For the same reason the doctor's non-verbal behaviour is important.

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