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How to Elicit a Patient's Health History

How to Elicit a Patient's Health History
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  • 0:01 Health History Defined
  • 0:53 Patient Interview
  • 1:36 Important Elements
  • 2:39 Review of Systems
  • 3:28 Additional Information
  • 4:16 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Rebecca Gillaspy

Dr. Gillaspy has taught health science at University of Phoenix and Ashford University and has a degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic.

A health history is a collection of information about a patient that can be used to better understand the chief complaint. Learn about information gathering tools, such as the patient interview, history of present illness and the review of systems.

Health History Defined

Throughout your day, you may have the opportunity to strike up a conversation with many people. At home, you might gather information from your family, so you can schedule the day's events. At work, you might collect input from coworkers to help you make smart business decisions.

Eliciting an appropriate health history is much like having a conversation. A health history is a collection of information from a patient that provides a picture of his or her current state of health. When a patient's health history is elicited properly, it supplies the medical professional with important facts that will assist in making a proper diagnosis and creating a beneficial treatment plan. In this lesson, we will learn about the elements needed to elicit a thorough patient health history.

Patient Interview

A patient interview, or patient consultation, is the most effective way to elicit a health history. It's a focused conversation between the patient and the health care provider. A patient interview may need to be adapted if the subject is unable to answer questions on his or her own due to special situations, such as a language barrier, age or diminished mental capacity. However, in most cases, the patient interview will be conducted directly with the patient.

Taking your time when conducting a patient interview allows the patient to tell their story and share their concerns. This helps establish a trusting and cooperative relationship between the provider and the patient.

Important Elements

Health histories can be organized in different ways depending on the hospital or organization gathering the information. Forms used to record the history may be handwritten or computerized. Regardless of the format, most health histories aim to gather the same essential information. Let's take a look at important elements gathered during the patient health history.

A patient often has a current health concern that acts as the reason for the health care visit. This is referred to as the patient's chief complaint. Once the chief complaint has been established, a history of present illness, or HPI, is gathered. The HPI is additional information that is collected to understand the full picture of the chief complaint. For example, if the patient presents with abdominal pain as the chief complaint, the clinician may ask the patient to pinpoint the location of the pain. The health care provider may also ask about the duration and intensity of the pain, as well as aggravating factors and associated signs and symptoms.

Review of Systems

A review of systems, or ROS, is a helpful tool for gathering essential information about a patient. This involves an assessment of body systems. The ROS can uncover relevant signs or symptoms that the patient might have dismissed as unimportant or unrelated.

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