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Point of Care Toolkit: Physical Assessment

Physical assessment is taking a systematic look at a patient’s health status utilizing knowledge, skills and tools of health history and physical exam.  Physical assessment generally follows the taking of a patient medical history, including symptom presentation.  Below are some aspects of physical assessment that may be necessary when utilizing point of care testing for proper laboratory interpretation, devising a treatment plan and/or referral.


Pharmacists and student pharmacists should be trained and demonstrate proficiency in the following techniques prior to performing any physical assessment or review of systems on a patient.


Heart Rate (Pulse)

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Body Mass Index (BMI)

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Blood Pressure (BP)

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Review of Systems (ROS)

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Lymph nodes

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Generic ROS

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Overall Physical Assessment:

This text offers a practical approach to patient assessment skills in pharmacy practice. The book covers basic anatomy and physiology, pathology, and system assessment through interview, communication, and some physical exams, to help pharmacists and pharmacy students correlate signs and symptoms of possible diseases.  

Jones RM, Rospond RM, eds. Patient Assessment in Pharmacy Practice. 2nd ed. Baltimore: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2009.

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