The Outpatient Physical Examination

Med Clin North Am. 2018 May;102(3):465-473. doi: 10.1016/j.mcna.2017.12.008. Epub 2018 Mar 12.


The physical examination in the outpatient setting is a valuable tool. Even in settings where there is lack of evidence, such as the annual physical examination of an asymptomatic adult, the physical examination is beneficial for the physician-patient relationship. When a patient has specific symptoms, the physical examination-in addition to a thorough history-can help narrow down, or in many cases establish, a diagnosis. In a time where imaging and laboratory tests are easily available, but are expensive and can be invasive, a skilled physical examination remains an important component of patient evaluation.

Keywords: Annual physical examination; Dizziness examination; Headache examination; Low back pain examination; Problem-focused physical examination; Shoulder examination.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Ambulatory Care / methods*
  • Ambulatory Care / standards
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Physical Examination / methods*
  • Physical Examination / standards