Pertinent History: The Keystone of Medical Evaluations

Dec 15, 2023 | AMA Guides

In the realm of traditional medical history taking, we often start by asking about the chief complaint. This approach sets the stage for understanding the patient’s primary concerns. However, when it comes to medicolegal evaluations or Independent Medical Examinations (IMEs), the focus subtly shifts.

In these scenarios, the spotlight often falls on the specific injury or exposure. But how do we bridge the gap between clinical inquiry and the patient’s personal experience? One effective strategy is to begin the conversation with a simple yet profound question: “What are you most concerned about?”

This question does more than just gather information; it opens a window into the patient’s perspective, fears, and priorities. It helps us, as healthcare providers, to see beyond the clinical presentation and understand the human element in each case. Such insights are invaluable, not only in crafting a more comprehensive and empathetic approach to care but also in ensuring a thorough and fair medicolegal assessment.

As we navigate the complexities of medical evaluations, let’s remember the power of starting with the right question. It can transform our approach from merely treating a condition to caring for a person.

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