Medical student diagnoses pretend patient with deadly disease

A University of Virginia medical student might have saved a man’s life recently during what was supposed to be a routine training exercise.

The university’s school of medicine uses actors to role play patients with a variety of medical problems. One of the actors, Jim Malloy, was assigned to play a patient with an abdominal aortic aneurysm.

An AAA occurs when a small section of the lower aorta begins to balloon, and is common in men between 65 and 75 years old.

Ryan Jones, the student assigned to Malloy, reported during the exercise that he thought the man had an actual aneurysm, though — no acting needed.

The Malloys were busy and a few months went by before anything happened, but when the retiree finally went to the doctor, he found Jones had been correct.

Malloy underwent surgery in August and is doing fine, according to UVA.

“Jim’s life was saved by a UVA medical student, no doubt about it,” Jim’s wife, Louise Malloy, told UVA.

She ran into Jones in August and expressed her appreciation for what he did. He said he was surprised to learn what had happened.

“It feels great to know that I made a difference,” said Jones, who plans to become a radiation oncologist.

Louise Malloy said she doesn’t want her husband’s experience to go unnoticed by other medical students.

“Don’t ever think you can’t affect a life,” she said. “My husband, Jim, is living proof that you can.”

Contact Stephanie Grimes at Find her on Twitter: @steph_grimes