March 7, 1986

Bedside Diagnosis

Author Affiliations

Hines Veterans Administration Hospital Chicago


by Charles Seward and David Mattingly, ed 12; 425 pp, with illus, $24, Edinburgh, Churchill Livingstone Inc, 1985.

JAMA. 1986;255(9):1202. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03370090128040

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A rational approach to diagnosis is to decide which of a patient's signs and symptoms is most significant, then to key subsequent investigation to this. That this is also a useful approach is attested to by the continued popularity of this work, which has survived in 12 editions over 36 years and has been translated into at least five other languages. Periodic revisions are necessary to reflect newer diagnostic modalities as well as evolving knowledge about disease. Nonetheless, directed questioning and careful physical examination of the patient continue to be seen as critical elements in diagnosis. Incidentally, the word "bedside" in the book's title is perhaps misleading; the principles covered apply equally to office diagnosis, and methods beyond the history and physical examination are also considered.

Pain of various sorts is given greater coverage than any other symptom, accounting for a fourth of the material. Abdominal pain is nicely divided