Observation refers to a visual inspection or examination of a variety of conditions of the body, including an impression of the mental aspects of the patient, general vitality, facial complexion and expression, skin color and lesions, movements and behavior, secretions, body appearance (posture, muscle development and tonus, movement), and the condition of the sensory organs (eyes, ears, nose, and mouth).
- Internal conditions are usually reflected on the outside of the body.
- Systemic changes can sometimes be recognized by observing a local area of the body.
- The nature of a disorder may determine how the disorder is reflected on the exterior.
- Observation of the patient needs to be done in general and in detail.
- Observation of the patient needs to be done in good light conditions, quickly, and in an orderly and systematic manner.
A very important part of observation is the inspection of the tongue, which is usually discussed separately because of the unique features of this diagnostic tool.