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Principles of examining patients with a disability

When examining a patient who has a disability you must make reasonable adjustments to enable you to perform the relevant tests.33 These would include:
  1. allowing additional time where necessary
  2. having instruments that are suitable to use on patients who are unable to move their head or put their chin on the chin rest of table mounted instruments. Examples of what would be suitable include a direct ophthalmoscope, handheld tonometer, and trial frame and lenses rather than a refractor head.
Do not assume that just because a patient has a disability, they are unable to understand you or interact with you normally. You should always speak directly to the patient, rather than to their companion.
Do not be embarrassed to ask the patient what has caused their disability or how long they have had it for.
Be flexible in your examination techniques, and be prepared to adapt your routine to accommodate the patient’s individual needs.


33 Equality Act 2010 (for England, Scotland and Wales). [Accessed 1 Nov 2023] The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 still applies in Northern Ireland.