Clinical Methods is a book for students of all ages and all degrees of experience. We all have gaps in our knowledge and this book should help fill them. It is intended to provide insight and instruction on the acquisition of clinically useful information whether obtained by the traditional clinical skills of history-taking and physical examination, or by the increasingly complex and accurate methods available to the modern clinician with help from the biochemist, physicist, physiologist or computer engineer. Clearly, it is not possible to include all this information within the covers of a single book. Yet if modern investigative methods are to be applied to patient care, intelligently, with economy and with compassion, they must be integrated with traditional methods. The latter remain invaluable and irreplaceable clinical skills. Extended investigations and more complex managements must be both useful and humane. The art of the clinician, mentioned by Robert Hutchison in his petition, is essentially the art of communication and explanation.
In his own day Hutchison was concerned to explain those tests that were important in his clinical practice, particularly bacteriology, urine testing, radiology, and the beginnings of electrical tests of muscular function. Brief accounts of modern methods of investigation are therefore given throughout the nineteenth edition of the book; these are not intended to be complete but, rather, to give some idea both of the principles underlying them, and of the indications for their use.