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What is a typical checklist for physical exams?

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Quick Answer

During a physical exam, the doctor typically reviews the patient’s health history and checks vital signs, general appearance and the health of his body organs such as the heart, lungs, head and neck and skin, according to WebMD. The doctor also orders laboratory tests on the patient’s urine, stool and blood, and then performs additional specialized tests based on the patient’s gender.

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Full Answer

An annual physical exam evaluates a patient's health, and in the process, reassures healthy patients and detects diseases before they develop further in ill patients, says WebMD. When a patient undergoes a physical exam, the doctor queries him for any complaints about his health, and then inquires about lifestyle behaviors such as drug use, diet, sexual health and exercise. The doctor then reviews the patient’s vaccination status and updates his medical history.

The doctor then checks the patient’s blood pressure, heart and respiration rates and temperature, states WebMD. He then examines the patient’s mental quickness and memory, and checks the appearance of the patient’s skin and his bodily strength. The doctor also carries out lung, heart, head and neck and abdominal exams, followed by neurological and dermatological exams.

If the patient is male, the doctor conducts testicular, hernia, penis and prostate exams, according to WebMD. If the patient is female, the doctor performs breast and pelvic exams. If the patient shows problematic symptoms, the doctor can also order a chemistry panel to check for items such as the body’s electrolyte balance, or he can schedule a urinalysis to detect diseases such as diabetes.

Doctors recommend regular screening for colorectal cancer for patients over 50 years old and those with a family history of colorectal cancer, WebMD notes. Women over 40 should schedule annual mammograms to check for breast cancer.

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