Medical Physical Evaluation

General Medical Physical

At a general medical physical exam, your physician will provide routine care and can also respond to specific concerns you may have. There will be a physical exam which integrates your medical history for a full picture of your health experiences. You can expect that the exam will measure important vital signs, such as temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate, and an evaluation of your body using observation, palpitation, percussion, and auscultation.

  • Observation includes using instruments to look into your eyes, ears, nose, and throat. Your doctor will look at skin color, lesions, and note any hygienic issues. He or she may examine other parts of your body if symptoms or medical history indicates the need.
  • Your doctor will palpitate — touch — certain parts of your body, feeling for unusual lumps, checking organ size and shape, and checking responses.
  • By placing one hand over your abdomen and tapping it with the other, the doctor is relying on percussion to determine organ location, identify blockages, and pinpoint any problem areas. Reflexes are checked with the use of a small rubber hammer.
  • Auscultation involves the use of a stethoscope to listen to your heart, lungs, and bowels.

Fit-For-Duty Physicals

Employers rely on fit-for-duty exams (or fit-for-duty tests) to make sure their workers can safely perform specific jobs. These exams are an essential part of workplace safety and safe return to work. Fit-for-duty exams can be performed for employees who are working or who are returning to work after injury.

When fit-for-duty exams are performed for return to work, they’re often called “return-to-work exams.” An employer may want a fit-for-duty exam for an employee who is completing treatment and is ready to return to work after a serious illness or injury. The information captured on a return-to-work application assists employers in understanding if the employee can safely perform their job again, and they can return to work without risking re-injury.

What is the purpose of a Fit-for-Duty Physical?

Sometimes, employers may worry that an employee’s medical condition makes it unsafe for them to perform their job. A fit-for-duty exam determines if the employee is physically and/or psychologically able to safely perform their current role. These specialized exams are typically reserved for more labor-intensive roles, and the exams are unique to each employer and their positions. What’s examined depends can be customized to an employee’s role and unique circumstances. This may include lifting heavy objects overhead, crouching and bending for prolonged periods of time, and maneuvering into small spaces.