The clinical history and examination

The clinical history and examination is the basis of the medical assessment. Many of the professions allied to medicine use a similar starting point. It is the first stage of risk assessment. The clinician is using the information she or he gathers to modify the patient's risk from that of the general population to a more specific one. The history taking will be considered under the headings commonly employed by physicians:

• Presenting complaint

• Past medical and drug history

• Occupation and smoking history

• Family history

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