What is a Medical Inspection?

Marisa O'Connor

A medical inspection is a thorough visual examination of the physical body. It is typically performed by a medical professional, like a physician or a nurse. The inspector will notice all parts of the body, looking for any symptoms of a problem, such as jaundice or spine curvature. Often, medical inspections are just part of a routine physical examination, but they are also performed in schools, prisons, and other institutions.

A common part of a medical inspection involves listening to a patient's lung.
A common part of a medical inspection involves listening to a patient's lung.

The body is thoroughly examined during a medical inspection. The doctor or nurse will look at each part of the body and symmetry appearance. Weight and malnutrition as well as hair and skin color are observed. Frequency, volume, and body movement while breathing is looked at, as well as gait and speech.

Head lice may be revealed during a medical inspection.
Head lice may be revealed during a medical inspection.

There are many problems that can be identified by a medical inspection. Physical deformities and curvature of the spine can be seen. Scars, rashes, and visible masses, such as a cyst or possible tumor, can be seen with the naked eye. Discoloration, such as jaundice, swelling, and shaking, can all be seen during a physical inspection.

A medical inspection may be a part of an annual physical examination. The inspection portion is when the doctor looks for physical symptoms on the body of any kind of health problem. The rest of the physical examination may include blood, urine, or stool lab tests. The doctor may use instruments to measure body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure. The doctor will usually also ask the patient to describe any symptoms he or she has experienced recently, but the medical inspection is limited to the visual examination.

A physical examination is not the only time when a medical inspection is performed. Often schools and other institutions perform medical inspections, usually because a full physical examination is not required or available. These inspections may be routine or for a specific purpose. Anyone who attended a public school is probably familiar with inspections from the school nurse. Medical inspections are used to isolate contagious medical problems like chicken pocks or head lice.

In the medical practice, a medical inspection is not necessarily limited to a visual inspection. Inspection here includes any information that can be gathered about a patient without the use of instruments, like a blood pressure or heart rate monitor. Listening to sounds coming from the patient, like wheezing or joints cracking, is considered part of a physical inspection. Any odors that are noticeable to the doctor or nurse are also included in the inspection.

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