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Systems review

Having previously decided that a full head-to-toe examination is not always required for each presentation of illness or injury, we consider the review of systems.

After we have established the presenting complaint and its history, we go on to consider the other systems, to ensure that we are not missing any vital signs and symptoms.

We ask the patient if they have any problems with:

  • the cardiovascular system
  • the gastrointestinal system
  • the respiratory system
  • the neurological system
  • the musculoskeletal system
  • the genito-urinary system
  • the integumentary system (skin, hair, nails)

Obviously we cannot just ask the questions using these medical terms. Many of our patients would not understand what we are asking so we need to use simplified questions. For example, suitable questions for cardiovascular include ‘Do you become breathless walking up a flight of stairs?’ ‘How many pillows do you sleep on?’ ‘How far can you walk on a flat surface?’

Your task

Write out and share the questions you could use, for your patients, to collate this information in a succinct way.

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This article is from the free online course:

An Introduction to Physical Health Assessment

Coventry University