There are virtually no risks associated with a physical examination. Complications with the process of a physical examination are unusual. Occasionally, a useful piece of information or data may be overlooked. More commonly, results of associated laboratory tests compel physicians to recheck an individual or reexamine portions of the body already reviewed. In a sense, complications may arise from the findings of a physical examination. These usually trigger further investigations or initiate treatment. They are really more beneficial than negative, as they often begin a process of treatment and recovery.
Normal results of a physical examination correspond to the healthy appearance and normal functioning of the body. For example, appropriate reflexes will be present, no suspicious lumps or lesions will be found, and vital signs will be normal.
Abnormal results of a physical examination include any findings that indicate the presence of a disorder, disease, or underlying condition. For example, the presence of lumps or lesions, fever, muscle weakness or lack of tone, poor reflex response, heart arrhythmia, or swelling of lymph nodes will indicate possible health problems.
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L. Fleming Fallon Jr. MD, DrPH, The Gale Group Inc., Gale, Detroit,