The doctor and his pheasant

BMJ 2004; 329 doi: (Published 16 December 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;329:1474
  1. John Hughes, retired general practitioner
  1. Aberystwyth SY23 2NF

    Most patients in rural Wales have absolute faith in their doctors, and vice versa. This true story, which happened long, long ago, is an example of such faith.

    An elderly man had been ill for many months but was not confined to bed. He was very well looked after by his wife and daughter. On a Friday evening before Easter the man's wife telephoned the doctor but he was out. The receptionist took the message. It was a request for the doctor to leave a death certificate for the “old boy.” The doctor signed the death certificate, and it was picked up that evening.

    After Easter the doctor decided to visit the family. He was surprised to see his patient sitting in a chair outside the back door. What was the story behind this?

    The man's wife explained: “On the night before Easter we really thought he was going to die. We didn't want to call you out over Easter—hence the request for a death certificate. He is now back to his usual self and quite happy. This morning he shot a pheasant and he is giving it to you in recognition of your excellent service.”

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