Herbert L. Tanenbaum, a cardiologist of more than four decades of medical practice, invites us to review the amazing
number of anecdotes, stories, tales and witticisms he has remembered and then collected. This is more than a compilation
of stories and anecdotes. For us all, Out of the Doctor's Bag points to the importance of what we have experienced
and what those events tell us about the human condition. Let's face it. We can make humorous comments or gestures or
be the object of humor without realizing it. Says Tanenbaum, "A sense of humor often allows us to overcome or make
more bearable unfortunate events that happen in our lives. In many instances, time may solve these problems."
EXCERPT FROM HERBERT TANENBAUM'S OUT OF THE DOCTOR'S BAG
A COLORFUL LESSON
Dr. J in medical school took threw out examination questions that often were out of the ordinary but were
constructed to drive home an important lesson for the students. He also took a great deal of delight in
A favorite question was to ask what color were the covers of different medical journals . He wanted to know
if the students were going to the medical library and reading the journals.
A special exam question that remains in my memory was about a patient who complained of passing green urine. No
one in our class could come up with the correct diagnosis. What in the world could cause the urine to be
colored green? Perhaps it was a sign of some rare disease that we were not familiar with.
Dr. Jís teaching point was to encourage the student to consider the most common probabilities when first approaching
a diagnostic problem. The most common discoloration of the urine would be red, a result of passing blood. But
he made the point that an unusual abnormality in men is color blindness and the resulting difficulty in distinguishing
the colors red and green. And so the correct answer was that the patient was color blind and was passing blood
in the urine.
The lesson: If you hear hoof beats outside of your window, they are more likely from horses and not zebras!
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