Sometimes simple detective skills and a well practised ability to not appear patronising are all that is required of a health care practitioner when confronted by patients in an urgent care centre. Take the young man that I saw last week:
“I broke my foot three months ago and it still hurts.”
When I asked him about the original injury and what happened, it transpired that the initial pain had resolved completely after a couple of weeks. However a new pain started a month ago on the opposite side of the foot. When I asked what factors made the pain worse and what made it better, he told me that it always gets worse throughout the day when he is working, but it never bothers him during the weekends.
I asked him what he did for a living; he told me that he works on a building site. I asked whether he wore steel toe-capped boots to protect his feet from trauma.
“Oh yes!” he said brightly, “in fact I bought a new pair of boots a month ago.” I held his gaze for a while until the penny dropped and he realised with embarrassment that his new boots were the cause of his mysterious discomfort.
Or how about this older man who saw my colleague recently:
“Everywhere I look, everything is yellow” he said as he looked up and down, left and right just to prove his point.
My colleague, removed the chain smoker’s spectacles, cleaned the tobacco stains from them and popped them back on his nose.
“Wow! That’s better” he said without shame.
Another happy customer!