English for Doctors: Asking about Past Medical History
History of Medical Discoveries
Know Your Family Medical History
Story by Story Episode 10: Family Medical History and Genetics
The medical history or case history of a patient is information gained by a physician by asking specific questions, either of the patient or of other people who know the person and can give suitable information, with the aim of obtaining information useful in formulating a diagnosis and providing medical care to the patient. The medically relevant complaints reported by the patient or others familiar with the patient are referred to as symptoms, in contrast with clinical signs, which are ascertained by direct examination on the part of medical personnel. Most health encounters will result in some form of history being taken. Medical histories vary in their depth and focus. For example, an ambulance paramedic would typically limit their history to important details, such as name, history of presenting complaint, allergies, etc. In contrast, a psychiatric history is frequently lengthy and in depth, as many details about the patient's life are relevant to formulating a management plan for a psychiatric illness.