Head-Jolt sign: This is about 99% sensitive and 50% specific for meningitis. Have patients rapidly turn their head side to side. If it doesn’t hurt or they have to do it twice, make sure they don’t have meningitis. I will often grab their head and do it for them, but first definitely explain what I am doing to family members.
Eyes-Red eyes: Consensual photophobia or limbal flush suggests iritis or keratitis rather than conjunctivitis.
Pulmonary exam: Demonstrating how you want them to breathe and having them breathe more rapidly in and out is quicker and more sensitive for abnormal lung sounds. If you think you hear consolation when performing lung exam, ask a yes or no question. This can help continue your history, speed up your exam, and identify a pneumonia (a sort of modified egophony). After that and the end of an exhale, tell them to stop breathing and stick out their tongue (if no mask) while you listen to the heart with your stethoscope closer to the heart and without interference from lung sounds or, worse yet, speech. Bonus: Look at their tongue for hydration status.
Vascular-Pulses in the feet: Comparing pedal pulses is critical when there is a possibility of a knee dislocation, an aortic dissection, or acute limb ischemia, all of which can be sneaky and time-sensitive. Popliteal arterial injuries often are diagnosed late due to severe leg pain or spontaneous knee reduction. Aortic dissection rarely extends into an arm but almost always extends into a leg. Acute limb ischemia can mimic DVT, sciatica, or even a stroke.
Ortho-Pain location: Have them touch the exact spot that hurts the most. Without this and a confirmatory exam, you may end up imaging the wrong part of the spine or extremity. If you are lucky, it will only cause a delay; if you are not, it can cause a disaster. I have seen many misses or near misses due to this.
Ortho-Arm/hand neuro exam:
Have the patient make an OK sign with the wrist in dorsiflexion and third fourth and fifth fingers spread apart. This allows you to evaluate the median (C5-8), ulnar (C8-T1), and radial nerves (C6-C8) in a five-second motor exam.