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I was using a running log app and came across terminology commonly used to describe a "physical" — as in a type of medical provider visit that is scheduled once a year and typically requires a lengthy lead-time to secure. In my mind, this term overlaps with its literal counterpart: a "physical examination" - as in an examination of the physical nature (as opposed to instrumental/laboratory/etc.).

While trying to use both concepts in the same sentence, I was at a loss regarding how to go about doing so. Do I refer to it as a "physical examination (non-physical)"? I thought that could't be right, and so I hopped on here to ask what the proper vernacular is in the clinical setting.

How do you designate or denote a "physical" and a "physical examination" as to be able to differentiate or address them with specificity?

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  • I think the only way to distinguish intent is context. (In the US)
    – Carey Gregory
    Commented Mar 2, 2022 at 2:12
  • I've not seen tests referred to as physical exams/examinations (I'm a physician in the US.) To me, a physical exam is a "hands on" examination. You are physically examining the patient; you can't do it remotely. Pretty much everything else is called a test or a procedure: blood tests/lab tests, stress test, EMG, etc. Procedures include catheterizations, colonoscopies, etc. Not all procedures are invasive. Commented Mar 2, 2022 at 20:44

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