But is there any research to show that a physical exam — in a healthy person — is of any benefit? Despite a long and storied tradition, a physical exam is more a habit than a clinically proven method of picking up disease in asymptomatic people. There is scant evidence to suggest that routinely listening to every healthy person’s lungs, or pressing on every normal person’s liver, will find a disease that wasn’t suggested by the patient’s history. For a healthy person, an “abnormal finding” on physical exam is more likely to be a false positive than a real sign of illness. Moreover, a normal physical exam cannot reassure a patient that there is no disease lurking in the shadows.