This is essentially an examination of the patients lungs; however it is a complex examination which also includes examination of other parts of the body including the hands, face and neck.
The respiratory examination aims to pick up on any respiratory (breathing) pathology that may be causing a patients symptoms e.g. shortness of breath, cough, wheeze etc. Common conditions include chest infections, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This examination is performed on every patient that is admitted to hospital and regularly in clinics and general practice.
Like most major examination stations this follows the usual procedure of inspect, palpate, percuss, auscultate (look, feel, tap, listen). It is an essential skill to master and is often examined in OSCEs.