Chief Complaint

The chief complaint is the patient's brief statement explaining why he or she sought medical attention. It is the answer to the question, ''What is the medical problem that brought you to the hospital?'' In the written history, it is frequently a quoted statement of the patient, such as

''Chestpain for the past 5 hours.'' ''Terrible nausea and vomiting for 2 days.'' ''Headache for the last week, on and off.'' ''Routine examination for school.''

Patients sometimes use medical terms. The interviewer must ask the patient to define such terms to ascertain what the patient means by them.

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