Medical students, as part of their training, are assigned to examine "patients" who pretend to have various maladies. Remember Kramer's (fake) bout of gonorrhea?
Only sometimes it turns out those medical actors aren't pretending.
Back in March, a University of Virginia medical student Ryan Jones examined Jim Malloy, a retiree who's acted out a whole range of ailments for aspiring local doctors.
Malloy had, in this case, been instructed to exhibit symptoms of abdominal aortic aneurysm, "a condition in which a small section of the lower aorta begins to balloon," according a news release put out at the beginning of January by the University of Virginia.
But as Jones was doing his examination, he found symptoms of an actual abdominal aortic aneurysm -- these conditions are fatal 80 percent of the time, if they burst, according to the National Institutes of Health.
"I said, 'I think I found an aneurism' and he played along because that's his job and so I'm like: Does he actually know he has this?" Jones said to WDBJ7.
But in fact he did not know. Malloy was advised to go see a cardiologist. Which he did -- after several months, per the news release, and not a moment too soon:
The Malloys, who live in Crozet, Va., and have seven grown children, say life was busy at that time, and a few months went by before Jim actually made the appointment. When he was finally checked, he learned that he did indeed have an AAA, which was large enough to be of concern. He underwent stent placement surgery at the University of Virginia Medical Center in August and is now doing fine.
"Jim's life was saved by a University of Virginia medical student, no doubt about it," Malloy's wife Louise told ABC News..
"Had he been portraying a [disease] with another symptom, I wouldn't have done that part of the physical exam," said Jones, a fourth year med student who plans to become a radiation oncologist. "It's not a routine portion of the exam, it's only because he was portraying that case of [abdominal aortic aneurysm]."