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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Roberto J Colon, MD (Wright-Patterson AFB Hospital)
Description: This is an excellent guide to the key aspects of history and physical examination essential in the practice of medicine. The illustrations augment the text and reinforce key elements in each chapter.
Purpose: The intent is to teach proper history and physical examination techniques in order to arrive at a proper diagnosis. Given today's access to technology and its cost, we have seen a decline in students' and residents' basic skills. It is of paramount importance to routinely emphasize these key aspects of medical practice, emphasizing how often a correct diagnosis can be derived from a complete and accurate history and physical. Without a doubt, this book achieves the authors' goals of fostering a sound approach to history and physical examinations.
Audience: It is equally practical for every level of practice — student, resident, and provider. As a residency program director, even I found helpful suggestions that will be incorporated into my practice and resident education. While the authors recommend this as a useful adjunct for any specialty, it appears most useful for family practice, internal medicine and general surgery. For students, however, it would be an excellent resource to use in almost every clinical rotation from pediatrics to obstetrics and gynecology.
Features: The book covers virtually all aspects of obtaining a medical history from preparation to a thorough systems review. A complete head-to-toe examination is discussed throughout the book, covering appropriate aspects of every organ system. The illustrations and diagrams appropriately augment and demonstrate tests and maneuvers explained in the text. Of particular interest are the chapters addressing special populations such as adolescents, the elderly, and patients with cancer. These sections actually do an outstanding job of highlighting problems and emphasizing important considerations specific to these patient groups. The use of color tables throughout each chapter is useful in providing concise summaries of key points and differential diagnosis for various conditions and also serves as educational aid in sections such as history taking and ethics.
Assessment: This is a reference for anyone wishing to learn or refine history and examination skills. It is equally appropriate for students beginning their clinical rotations, as well as residents and practitioners to use as a source for the proper methods of history and clinical examinations. I have personally found it as useful as other staples of physical examination education such as Bates' Guide to Physical Examination and History Taking, 9th edition, by Bickley and Szilagyi (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2007).