DEAR ABBY: I am a general surgeon. When people learn my occupation, I am frequently peppered with questions regarding general health matters.
At a recent dinner party, the hostess interrupted my conversation with other guests three different times to ask my opinion about trivial health concerns. Twice she dragged her young daughter over for me to examine in front of other guests -- first, for a minor bump to the child's leg (which left no mark), and again to show me a nearly healed scratch on the child's arm.
The last straw was when she halted conversation at the dinner table to announce that she had a "scratchy feeling" in her chest, and would I go to the car for my stethoscope in order to listen to her lungs?
How can I extract myself from these situations without giving the impression that I'm callous to naive onlookers? -- HARASSED M.D. IN DES MOINES
DEAR HARASSED M.D.: I'll give you the same advice I gave to the computer expert who was also continually bombarded for free advice: Assume a serious expression and say, "Hmmm. You know, that COULD be something serious. You should make an appointment with (your internist, your pediatrician, etc.) and have it checked out where there's all the latest equipment needed to do a thorough assessment."