The intake takes about 1.5 hours (in complex cases, it can be up to 2 hours), and includes an extensive interview, not only of the main medical complaints but also of other physiological functions throughout the entire system.
Then, a physical examination will be done using a number of diagnostic methods, including any of the following:
- Contemporary Chinese Pulse Diagnosis®, a system developed by the late Chinese master John H.F. Shen, a world-renowned diagnostician, and elaborated upon by his longtime apprentice, Leon Hammer, M.D. (Read this article in Ode Magazine for a patient’s view of pulse diagnosis.)
- Face diagnosis
- Traditional Chinese tongue diagnosis
- Abdominal diagnosis
- Palpation and observation
(For more on these methods, please refer to the article, Four Pillars of Diagnosis.)
A diagnosis often cannot be arrived at immediately, especially in complicated cases. After the information is gathered, it must be sifted through and considered thoroughly. I consider my role as similar to a detective putting the pieces of a case together. Subtle distinctions can be important.
After this intake, a follow-up visit will be scheduled to present a report of findings. This follow-up takes anywhere from a few minutes to half an hour and is usually incorporated into the next treatment session. The aim of is to give you a solid understanding of your own condition, so that you have a clear sense of how you got to where you are, and how to get where you want to go—healthy and thriving.
As a general rule, I do this type of diagnosis on all patients, except those with very acute or localized problems, or if time is short for some reason. It is both more thorough and more time-consuming. I do tend to work a bit more slowly than others, but I believe that what I sacrifice in speed, I regain in accuracy and effectiveness.