Plain Tales from the Surgery

Starvation diet

A 54-year-old obese woman made an urgent appointment.

She came into to my room rather flustered and said: 'Doctor, when I picked up my blood from the reception, the new receptionist on the desk told me I had to fast for 12 days before the cholesterol test can be done.

'I don't think I can hold out for that long.'

Dr John Chen, Salford, Lancashire

Far-flung changes
In summarising an ECG report from the hospital, our secretary left me concerned that our cardiology colleagues had been on one too many far-flung conferences, by documenting that the patient had North Pacific T Wave changes.

Yet another random variant for cardiologists to postulate?

Happily, I discovered the true 'non-specific' meaning of the mix-up.

Dr Andy Perry, Sheffield

A bum steer
As telephone triage doctor for the out-of-hours co-operative. I called in on a young woman who had been complaining of headache for a few days. Her nurse practitioner had already diagnosed a migraine. Her mother was a nurse in A&E and had asked one of the doctors what else it could be.

The doctor told her to contact us because, even if unlikely, the headache was a possible sign of 'brain haemorrhoids'.

Dr Pamela Barcella, Ipswich, Suffolk

Beyond the call of duty
Our new travel clinic does more than vaccinations. On phoning to ask what vaccinations were needed prior to travel, a businessman was informed by our receptionist that he needed tetanus, yellow fever and gonorrhoea (she misread cholera).

After a stunned silence, he said that he never had gonorrhoea.

She was quick to use her initiative and said not to worry as he could come to the practice and one of the nurses would give it to him. She gave him a choice of nurses before she realised he was choking with laughter.

Dr Anu Jain, Kingston, Surrey

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