Heart sounds


The patient has a congenital heart defect, which means that when it comes to cardiology clinics he’s seen it all before. In stark and somewhat hilarious contrast to me.

The consultant hands me the ECG. “What do you make of this?”

“Um, well… there might be some right bundle branch block”.

This invites a glare. “What do you mean, there might be some bundle branch block? What year are you?”

He turns to the patient on the bed. “Alright if this student listens to your chest?”

“You might learn something interesting”. This is aimed at me, clearly. I pull out my stethoscope and start to listen.

“No, never do that! If I saw you doing that in an exam I’d fail you immediately! Do it like this.”

I replace the stethoscope, feel for the carotid pulse and listen again, until I’m distracted by an unexpected sound.

“Well, have you heard it yet?”

“Er, no… because the patient’s laughing.”

The consultant spins round. “What are you laughing at?”

“Oh, sorry. Sorry. It’s just that I’m a student too, so I know what it’s like to get shouted at.” The patient is trying to suppress a smirk. Unsuccessfully. “I’m just glad it’s being aimed at someone else for a change.”