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Wimbledon Clinics

Off piste and personal…with Dr. Patrick Bettin, GP in Argentiere, France

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What is an average day for you?

A working day tends to start early, at around 7.45am, and might not finish until 8.30pm. During that time, I see around 30 to 35 people, from babies to 95-year-olds, and of all different nationalities.

During the winter season (December to May), approximately 30 to 40 percent of those patients are as a result of ski trauma, with the most common injury being a rupture of the ACL.

I can sympathise with these patients, as I have experienced this injury myself!

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Actually, the majority of my medical care is rewarding, particularly when it is someone that I know, or a local from the village. It is nice to be able to help these people.

By far the most grateful patients that I see are those who have a dislocated shoulder. By the time you have helped them, and reset the shoulder, they are hugging you they are so relieved that the pain has stopped. 

What is the worst?

At the moment, I am finding a large amount of pancreatic cancer, five this year in fact. That is challenging. Tibia fractures are also very common, and are tricky cases.

Most challenging injury you have had to deal with on the mountain? 

It varies. We are able to set the majority of tibia and wrist fractures that occur on the mountain in the office. Spleen injury, too.

However, in Chamonix, the biggest and most dangerous injuries are flown by helicopter to the accident and emergency wing of the nearest hospital.

Do you ski?

Yes – as much as possible! If I’m lucky, that means between 10 to 15 trips per season.

My most memorable encounter was climbing Mont Blanc, then skiing back down.