Author: Mark H. Swartz, MD, FACP
Publisher: Elsevier Saunders – 825 pages
Book Review by: Nano Khilnani

Included for you with this print edition of the book is a very user-friendly accompanying website – – which is an online interactive learning platform that presents a vast collection of Elsevier textbook titles with a wide variety of ancillary material.

The website features:

  • Fully searchable text
  • Integration links that will seamlessly connect you to additional and related content in other Student Consult titles
  • An image library, with figures that can be easily downloaded into PowerPoint
  • Supplementary material such as audio or video clips

You can gain access to the online version of this book by going to the above-mentioned website and entering the unique PIN code provided in the scratch-off box on the inside front cover of this book.

In this textbook, Dr. Swartz takes a unique and comprehensive approach to physical diagnosis but emphasizes the humanistic element in health care, which is often overlooked in medical offices, clinics and hospitals in today’s world. He quotes from his Preface to the first edition in which he wrote about a quarter century ago: “The primary aim of this textbook is to provide a framework for the clinical assessment of the patient in a humanistic manner.” This still holds true for him today.

He points out that history-taking and physical examination must be looked at as a process that “requires interpersonal awareness” along with “technical skill.” He writes: “among the most valuable and least costly medical evaluations are the history and physical examination,” so this book “focuses on how to offer the best medical care through the art of effective interviewing and physical examination.” Not surprisingly, these are the subjects of Sections 1 and 2 of this book.

Twenty nine chapters and an Epilogue lay out the full contents of this book with topics as varied as the basic principles of interviewing in the first chapter in section one; to basic procedures of the physical examination in chapter four in section two; to the effect of lung disease on the patient in chapter ten; to the effect of infertility on the woman in chapter sixteen; to examination of the newborn in chapter twenty-one; and to traditional Chinese medicine in chapter twenty-eight.

Despite its detailed coverage of numerous subjects and topics, this book is organized simply into five sections on the basis of the five main tasks of the physician which he or she needs to master:

  1. The Art of Interviewing
  2. The Science of the Physical Examination
  3. Evaluation of Specific Patients
  4. Putting the Data to Work
  5. Special Additional Important Topics (Internet-Based)

The Contents pages list numerous topics in each of the 29 chapters and the Epilogue, making this book quite comprehensive and wide-ranging in its coverage.

Each of those topics are amply discussed in the chapters, with boxes, charts, drawings, figures and photographs that aid in new learning and the information-retention process. Tables providing data are also good documentation and referencing sources.

The Epilogue discusses additional issues such as: ethical challenges in the medical profession; unethical labeling of patients; health care proxy; and concluding thoughts.

The book has six helpful appendices, providing data and information on commonly abused drugs; signs and symptoms of deficiency states; conversion tables; the rational clinical examination: additional references; recommended immunization schedule for adults aged 19 and older in the United States; and the same for persons aged 0 through 18 in the U.S.

This is an outstanding work on the art and science of physical diagnosis, history-taking and examination that are essential to every physician. Dr. Swartz has done an extraordinary job in producing this highly valuable and useful textbook.

Mark H. Swartz, MD, FACP is Professor of Medicine at the State University of New York (SUNY) Downstate College of Medicine in Brooklyn, New York; Adjunct Professor of Medicine at New York Medical College in Valhalla, New York; Professor of Medical Sciences at New York College of Podiatric Medicine in New York, New York; and Director of the C3NY- Clinical Competence Center of New York – in New York, New York.