“When I was in my final years of med school (English division of a European university in a country where I speak the native language fluently), we were to do patient interviews and physical examinations on our own and then circle back to our supervisor. I was translating back and forth between the patientand a fellow classmate whom I was doing the interview with. The patient said, ‘So, you guys are coming in on a Saturday to do patient work? Good for you for going the extra mile.’ (It was a Friday, which I initially brushed off as a mistake.) My classmate asked me to ask the patient if he could tell us the date. I was like, ‘Are you sure? He’s here for an infection, not head trauma. He might think it’s a bit degrading.’ I thought it wasn’t important, but she insisted, so I translated the question.
“Patient replies, ‘Ah, well, it’s 2002, of course!’ (It was 2018.) After more questioning, we realized all of his replies were all as if it were 2002 (eg. ‘The last trip I went on was to Africa in the ’80s, so about 15 years ago’). As it turns out, he had neurosyphilis that went unchecked for many, many years.