Outline for physical examination

Outline for physical examination

General survey

Observe general state of health

Vital signs

Record vital signs such as:

Blood pressure

Pulse rate (apical/radial pulse)

Respiration rate


Oxygen saturation


Inspect and palpate skin and nail

Head and neck

Inspect and palpate face, sinuses, and central nervous system


Observe size and shape, symmetry and deformity, and involuntary movements.

Inspect and palpate arms, fingers, wrists, elbows, shoulders

Anterior and posterior thorax

Inspect for muscular development, scoliosis, respiratory movement, and approximation of AP diameter.

Palpate apical impulse, lymph nodes, symmetry of respiratory movement, tenderness of CVA, tumors or swelling, tactile fremitus

Percuss for pulmonary resonance

Auscultate breath sounds, rate and rhythm, character of S1 and S2 in the aortic, pulmonic, Erb’s point, tricuspid, mitral areas, bruits at carotid, epigastrium


Inspect for scars, shape, symmetry, bulging, muscular position and condition of umbilicus, movements

Auscultate for peristalsis such as bowel sounds or bruits

Percuss then palpate to confirm positive findings; check liver, spleen, and kidney (size and tenderness), urinary bladder (distention)

Palpate femoral pulses, inguinofemoral nodes, and abdominal aorta


Observe motor status and coordination


Male external genitalia

Female external genitalia


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