The purpose of physical assessment is to acquire physical and mental information on the patient. This information will assist the nurse to determine proper diagnoses, patient care, to supplement, confirm, or ask questions regarding the nursing history, and to evaluate the suitability of the nursing interventions in resolving the patient’s identified problems.

The eight components of a physical assessment are

  1. Health history
  2. Head, Eyes, Ears, Nose, and Throat
  3. Neurological
  4. Cardiovascular Assessment
  5. Gastrointestinal Assessment
  6. Genitourinary Assessment
  7. Musculoskeletal Assessment
  8. Assessment of the Integument

Techniques used for physical assessment are the following

  • Inspection- refers to the examination of the physical aspect of the patient.
  • Palpation- a type of examination that involves physical contact.
  • Auscultation- a type of examination by listening to the sound produced by the body. The most common sounds are those coming from abdominal viscera and the movement of blood in the cardiovascular system
  • Percussion- refers to the examination of the body by tapping some part with the fingers. Percussion is an examination that a practical nurse is not allowed to perform.

Methods on how to get the patient ready for the assessment

  • Start the assessment with a positive nurse/patient relationship which is a way to reduce the tension the patient may have felt to what is about to be done to him.
  • Explain to the patient the purpose of the physical assessment. Patients unfamiliar to the examinations may be confused at first.
  • Ask information and verbal consent for the assessment. Talking to the patient will lighten their mood and will ease the whole process.
  • Guarantee the patient that all information will be confidential. Patients are conscious of their data and preferred to keep it
  • Keep the assessment private when unnecessary exposure is involved.
  • Provide instructions that will direct the patient to what he needs to do and explain the process of what to intend to execute.
Gone are the days when doctors become nurses. Now the table is turned, nurses may turn to medical doctors, and I'm one of them. I can say I've been in both sides now, but still I see writing as a means of venting things out and touching lives, helping each struggling individual decipher the ever growing body of health care education.


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