Clinical examination practices and perceptions in the era of COVID-19

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Expert Rev Respir Med. 2021 Jun 10. doi: 10.1080/17476348.2021.1941884. Online ahead of print.


INTRODUCTION: The art of clinical examination has been the cornerstone of medical practices since ancient years. Recent technological achievements and their overuse led falsely to underestimation of its significance, which has been further questioned during coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, due to concerns regarding exposure risk and use of personal protective equipment.

AREAS COVERED: The role of clinical examination (namely chest examination) during the pandemic is discussed. Emerging evidence is being accumulated concerning alternatives to traditional practices. Telemedicine stands out as a promising tool, allowing inspection and interaction between physicians and patients, proved to be useful for many medical specialties but not enough for some others. Medical practices cannot remain the same in the era of the COVID-19 pandemic, yet realistic strategies should be adopted for their optimal and safe implementation.

EXPERT OPINION: The experience of a dedicated Reference Center for COVID-19 along with a suggested algorithm for conducting clinical examination are presented. According to our experience, an initial detailed clinical examination upon admission of each COVID-19 patient appears to be necessary. Then, vital signs and signs of respiratory distress using inspection should be checked frequently. A focused examination approach should be adopted, in case of new onset clinical problems.

PMID:34109904 | DOI:10.1080/17476348.2021.1941884