1. If you’re pimped on a statistics question (“How sensitive is [random test]?” “What percentage of [Disease X] presents with [symptom]?”) and you do not know the answer, guess either 20% or 80%.
Attendings rarely ever ask about 50/50 things – they’re asking you because the number is either unexpectedly large or small – so guessing 20% or 80% is almost guaranteed to put you within 10% of the right answer.
(Not that it matters how you answer, since the attending is only asking so he can give you a short speech about [random test] or [Disease X] – but it’s a cool trick. Works 80% of the time.)
2. One excellent presentation can make up for at least 5 days of looking like an idiot.
3. Pulmonary Embolism should be on your differential diagnosis if your patient has any of the following risk factors:
* any symptom above the diaphragm.
* any symptom below the diaphragm.
Also, a really nice stock phrase for your patient presentation is “We could order a D-dimer, but we essentially know it’s going to be positive in this patient – so we may as well save time and just do a V/Q scan.”
(The D-dimer test will be positive if the patient has any of the following:
* heart problems.
* lung problems.
* cancer problems.
* any problems that could possibly be causing some stress, such as “is currently hospitalized.”)