The characteristics of any given health care system have significant impact on the way medical care is provided.
From ancient times, Christian emphasis on practical charity gave rise to the development of systematic nursing and hospitals and the Catholic Church today remains the largest non-government provider of medical services in the world.
The healthcare provider uses the senses of sight, hearing, touch, and sometimes smell (e.g., in infection, uremia, diabetic ketoacidosis).
Four actions are the basis of physical examination: inspection, palpation (feel), percussion (tap to determine resonance characteristics), and auscultation (listen), generally in that order although auscultation occurs prior to percussion and palpation for abdominal assessments.
The diagnosis and treatment may take only a few minutes or a few weeks depending upon the complexity of the issue.