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MEDiscuss • Clinical Medicine - General • Why should we examine patients from the right side?

  1. #1
    Member since
    Jul 2007

    Why should we examine patients from the right side?

    While learning clinical medicine, surgery or obstetrics, we are always taught to examine patients from their right side. Is there any specific reason for prefering the right side?

    My left handed classmates face a problem, as they are not as conversant in using the right hand for palpation. They wish they could examine with their left hand from the left side of the patient.
    Shashikiran likes this.

  2. #2
    Physician - Teacher
    Member since
    Jul 2007
    Blog Entries
    Good question, many students ask this question frequently.

    The choice of right side for examining the patient from is more out of convention. It is certainly not an absolute requirement.

    Always using the same side for examination allows us to be consistent with our techniques. While examining from the right side is easier for right-handed individuals, left-handed persons may feel that they have a better control on the technique if they examine from the left side of the patient.

    While I am aware that in a high-stake "examination" situation, this may lead to a lot of confusion, it is more important that the person examining the patient is comfortably positioned in relation to the patient.
    Last edited by Shashikiran; March 21st, 2010 at 03:42 AM.

  3. #3
    Member since
    Jul 2007
    Thanks! Your reply vindicates my position during discussions with my friends... I used to harp on the "standardization" of techniques.

  4. #4
    New Member
    Member since
    Mar 2010
    Thanks! Just started clinical postings and was given this instruction... glad I am able to see an explanation here.

  5. #5
    New Member
    Member since
    Feb 2012
    examining the patient on right side is more convenient because from right side we shake hand, apex beat palpation, JVP examination. palpation for liver and spleen all are well performed from right side, and I refer you to Barbara Bates clinical examination textbook

  6. #6
    New Member
    Member since
    Jun 2012
    Barbara Bates clinical examination textbook is really flabbergast in order to get whole information on palpation.



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