Hoofbeats in your stethoscope

“When you hear hoofbeats,
Think horses, not zebras.”
That’s what the doctors say
They mean think of obvious diseases
Before the obscure ones
But my life has been a testament
To when this doesn’t work
So I have some lists
To guide doctors on their way
When you hear hoofbeats
The first thing you need to do
Is discern what country you are in
And what country your patient is in
As well as what country your patient is from
What country their parents are from
How far they have traveled
And where
So when you hear those hoofbeats
Galloping up your stethoscope
Here are some things to look out for:
Horses, cows, pigs, sheep, goats, donkeys, mules —
The farm animals and beasts of burden
Familiar to Western doctors
Llamas, alpacas, camels, dromedaries
Asses of all sorts
And not just horses’s asses —
Like some of you
Oxen, buffalo, tapir, rhinoceros
Yaks, wild hogs, deer, antelope
Peccary, chevrotain, and of course zebras…
Can I stop now?
Do you get the idea?
Do you know how many times
I’ve almost died
Due to doctors thinking
“It’s either horses or psychiatric”?
I have a list of non-horse medical diagnoses
Some rarer than others
All confirmed by rigorous testing
Performed by standard medical practitioners
And so does my whole family
So when you hear hoofbeats in your stethoscope
Think ungulates
Then try to figure out which ungulate it is
That is, after all, your job
And whether you find horses, zebras, or miniature deer,
You will save lives.

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