We are often reminded that patients only hear what they wish to hear. The latter may bear little resemblance to what they have been told. The truth of this was brought home very clearly to me some years ago whilst working as a G.P. Trainee.
A friend of the Practice Manager presented to me with a productive cough, which I duly dealt with.
The following day the Practice Manager informed me that, having seen me, her friend remarked to her that ‘it is not often a doctor tells you that you have “nice big breasts”’.
Needless to say, this caused me considerable consternation! Images of being summoned before the General Medical Council hovered before me. I then realised that she had mistaken what I had said on examining her chest, which had actually been ‘nice big breaths’.
The lesson has stayed with me. I now make sure that I examine the back of chests first and use the phrase ‘breathe deeply’!
(First Published in GP Magazine, April 2005.)