Monday, 5 September 2011

Doctor Slang


I saw this article on the BBC a while back and it made me chuckle: Doctor slang is a dying art.

Medicine is a profession already overflowing with acronyms and technical terms, and doctors over the years have invented plenty of their own.

However, Dr Adam Fox, who works at St Mary's Hospital in London as a specialist registrar in its child allergy unit, says that far fewer doctors now annotate notes with abbreviations designed to spell out the unsayable truth about their patients.


It's been suggested that the drop in use is due to doctors becoming more respectful of their patients:

Dr Fox is keen to point out that neither he, nor the other authors of the paper, published in the journal Ethics and Behavior, actually advocate using any of the terms.

He said: "It's a form of communication, and it needs to be recorded.

"It may not be around forever."

He said: "I do think that doctors are genuinely more respectful of their patients these days."


I think they might also be a little afraid of being sued ;)

It has certainly leant something to English. 'Coffin dodger' has definitely made it into general usage.

Here's some other acronyms the article threw up:


CTD - Circling the Drain (A patient expected to die soon)
GLM - Good looking Mum
GPO - Good for Parts Only
TEETH - Tried Everything Else, Try Homeopathy
UBI - Unexplained Beer Injury
NFN - Normal for Norfolk
FLK - Funny Looking Kid
GROLIES - Guardian Reader Of Low Intelligence in Ethnic Skirt
TTFO - roughly translates as "Told To Go Away"
LOBNH - Lights On But Nobody Home
CNS-QNS - Central Nervous System - Quantity Not Sufficient
DBI - "Dirt Bag Index" - multiplies the number of tattoos with the number of missing teeth to give an estimate of the number of days since the patient last bathed


And some euphemisms:


Digging for Worms: varicose vein surgery
Departure Lounge: geriatric ward
Handbag Positive: confused patient (usually elderly lady) lying on hospital bed clutching handbag
Woolworth's Test: anaesthetic term (if you can imagine a patient shopping in Woolies, it's safe to give a general anaesthetic)
Pumpkin Positive: if a penlight were to be shone into the patient's mouth it would encounter a brain so small that the whole head would light up

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