Consultant Sushen Bhattacharyya

A hospital consultant says he is still learning life lessons from his patients after more than 35 years on the job.

Sushen Bhattacharyya enjoys a good conversation and is spoilt for choice as a geriatrician where his elderly patients talk about events few of us have experienced from the Blitz to the Great North Sea Flood of 1953 which threatened to engulf parts of London.

“They have so many anecdotes, stories and insights. I love talking with them. It is what keeps me still interested in medicine after all this time,” he says.

Sushan recalls his conversation with an elderly man about how old fighter planes managed to fire their guns through the propellors without hitting them. 

“It turned out he had been a fighter pilot during World War Two and proceeded to give me a one-on-one about aerodynamics.”

The majority of Sushen’s patients arrive on his hospital ward with fractured femurs – one of the commonest fall injuries in the over 65s.

“I often think I am a detective as much as a doctor,” adds Sushen who looks for contributing factors behind a fall, such as problems with blood pressure, an abnormal heart rhythm, weakened muscles or the side effects of too many medicines.

“Patients often tell me they can’t remember why they fell and assume they tripped on something. If we are clear on why someone has fallen, we can try and put measures in place to reduce the chance of it happening again.

“We see nearly 400 patients a year with this type of fracture so it is worth identifying the commonalities and not just blaming the carpet.”

One of Sushan’s favourite patients was a 92-year-old who came in with a broken hip.

“I asked what had happened and he told me he had been ice-skating.”

“Ice skating?”, I asked. “What on earth made you want to do that?”

“I was teaching my new girlfriend to skate,” replied the patient.