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J Am Osteopath Assoc. 1995 Feb;95(2):90-6.

Standardization of the hospital record for osteopathic structural examination: recording of musculoskeletal findings and somatic dysfunction diagnosis.

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  • 1Pacific Hospital of Long Beach, Calif.


The diagnosis of somatic dysfunction is supported by the recording of positive musculoskeletal findings (altered structure, motion, tissue). We conducted a national survey to assess the status of the documentation of this relationship in the hospital setting. The 26 participating osteopathic training hospitals submitted 719 admitting physical examination forms, of which 417 (58%) met study criteria (adult patients on medicine or surgical service with a musculoskeletal examination documented on the chart). On 234 charts (56%), at least one positive finding was recorded but no diagnosis of somatic dysfunction was stated. Of 14 charts with a diagnosis of somatic dysfunction, 10 had a positive musculoskeletal finding recorded. The relationship between positive musculoskeletal findings and somatic dysfunction is not being documented on osteopathic training hospital admitting physical examination forms. Proper documentation of a somatic dysfunction diagnosis and related positive musculoskeletal findings will enable multisite research on the relationship between somatic dysfunction and other health problems documented on the hospital medical record. A multiple data collection system that is workable, reliable, and reproducible was developed as a result of this study.

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