A medical sign is an objective indication of some medical fact or characteristic that may be detected by a physician during a physical examination or by a clinical scientist by means of an in vivo examination of a patient.
Signs may have no meaning to the patient, and may even go unnoticed, but may be meaningful and significant to the healthcare provider in assisting the diagnosis of medical condition(s) responsible for the patient's symptoms.
A physical examination, medical examination, or clinical examination (more popularly known as a check-up or medical) is the process by which a medical professional investigates the body of a patient for signs of disease. It generally follows the taking of the medical history — an account of the symptoms as experienced by the patient. Together with the medical history, the physical examination aids in determining the correct diagnosis and devising the treatment plan. This data then becomes part of the medical record.
A Cochrane Collaboration meta-study found that routine annual physicals did not measurably reduce the risk of illness or death, and conversely, could lead to over-diagnosis and over-treatment. The authors concluded that routine physicals were unlikely to do more good than harm.
This article is about human body temperature; its common variations; and its less-common variations, such as fever. This article also briefly discusses two unusual medical conditions: hyperthermia and hypothermia.