The physical examination is the examination of the patient looking for signs of disease ('Symptoms' are what the patient volunteers, 'Signs' are what the healthcare provider detects by examination). The healthcare provider uses the senses of sight, hearing, touch, and sometimes smell (eg, in infection, uremia, diabetic ketoacidosis).
Taste has been made redundant by the availability of modern lab tests. Four actions are taught as the basis of physical examination: inspection, palpation (feel), percussion (tap to Determine resonance characteristics), and auscultation (listen). This order may be modified depending on the main focus of the examination (eg, a joint may be examined by simply "look, feel, move". Having this set order is an educational tool that encourages practitioners to be systematic in their approach and refrain from using tools Such as the stethoscope before they have fully Evaluated the other modalities).
The medical decision-making (MDM) process involves analysis and synthesis of all the above data to come up with a list of possible diagnoses (the differential diagnoses), along with an idea of what needs to be done to obtain a definitive diagnosis that would explain the patient's problem.
The treatment plan may include ordering additional laboratory tests and studies, starting therapy, referral to a specialist, or watchful observation. Follow-up may be advised.
Contemporary medicine applies health science, biomedical research, and medical technology to diagnose and treat injury and disease, typically through medication or surgery, but also through therapies as diverse as psychotherapy, external splints & traction, prostheses, biologics, ionizing radiation and others.
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