Nancy E. Reid, MHA, DHSc, PA-C, DFAAPA
An improper physical examination can lead to oversights during a medical appointment but cannot be easily discerned in a chart review. A physical examination that is either incomplete or incorrectly administered may significantly contribute to a delay in diagnosis, misdiagnosis, exposure to unnecessary ancillary services, including radiation, improper treatment, or patient harm. Medical errors can develop by either incorrectly performing the physical examination or failure to complete the examination at all. In addition, the electronic medical record (EMR) offers imported data using templated physical examinations, decreasing the personalization of physical findings and increasing physician oversight. Ultimately, the physical examination is a sizable preventable source of medical errors. The fundamental time frame for the instruction of the physical examination is during academics and residency. Afterward, the instruction and maintenance become primarily the health care provider's. Provided there was continuing medical education on physical examinations to build on the educational foundation, no matter the skill level or years of experience, there can be a decrease in diagnostic errors and an increase in proper patient outcomes.
Emery HS. The Indolent Use of the Physical Exam and Associated Repercussions. University of Lynchburg DMSc Doctoral Project Assignment Repository. 2023; 5(2).
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