Ringtones

Shortly before I retired in 2014, I thought “I had seen it all.”  I figured that after 40 years, how many questions had I not been asked by patients? Occasionally when this would happen, I was amused when I would see something new.    I would often laugh to myself, and then explain to the patient why I considered it an unusual day.

I was in the exam room with a child who was about 6 or 7 years old. As I started to examine his heart, I heard something so strange that I had never heard before.  My imagination suddenly leaped to an anxious place.   Within seconds I concluded that in all my previous exams of this child, I had missed a serious heart murmur.   After carefully listening to this strange sound, I even had visions of a serious malpractice suit.

Then, miraculously, the mother, sitting across from me, reached into her purse and turned off her cellphone. The ringtone, which was the sound of flowing water, was what I had heard and what I had mistakenly attributed to coming from the child’s heart! 

It was a very embarrassing experience! 

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