Listen at hospital for the doc’s vernacular

I read this in the Sydney Morning Herald today and found it both amusing and informative. Of course, that’s because it all applies to someone (or someones) else. I don’t think it would be so amusing to hear any of this said about myself. Still, it’s the season of goodwill, so I thought I’d share:

Doctors have always used a tribal vocabulary to communicate between themselves but now their secret lingo is being enriched by the electronic media and urban slang, the British Medical Journal has reported.

Paul Keeley, a consultant in the department of palliative medicine at Glasgow Royal Infirmary in Scotland, wrote to the weekly BMJ to report a sample of new words British doctors use among themselves. They include:

Disco biscuits: The clubbers’ drug ecstasy. As in: “The man in cubicle three looks like he’s taken one too many disco biscuits.”

Hasselhoff: Term for any patient who shows up in casualty with an injury for which there is a bizarre explanation. Source: Baywatch actor David Hasselhoff, who hit his head on a chandelier while shaving. The broken glass severed four tendons and an artery in his right arm.

Agnostication: A substitute for prognostication. Term used to the describe the usually vain attempt to answer the question: “How long have I got, doc?”

Blamestorming: Apportioning blame after the wrong kidney or leg is removed or some other particularly egregious foul-up.

404 moment: The point in a doctor’s ward round when medical records cannot be located. Comes from the internet error message “404 – document not found”.

Testiculation: Description of a gesture typically used by hospital consultant “when holding forth on subject on which he or she has little knowledge”. Gesture is of an upturned hand with outstretched fingers pointed upwards, clutching an invisible pair of testicles.

Other slang terms used by doctors, according to letters to the BMJ, include UBI (Unexplained Beer Injury), PAFO (Pissed And Fell Over) and Code Brown (a faecal incontinence emergency).

CTD means “Circling The Drain”, GPO signifies “Good for Parts Only” and “Rule of Five” means that if more than five of the patient’s orifices are obscured by tubing, they have no chance.

A patient who is “giving the O-sign” is very sick, lying with his mouth open. This is followed by the “Q-sign”, when the tongue hangs out of the mouth – when the patient becomes terminal.

As for genetic quirks or inbreeding, FLK means “Funny Looking Kid” and NFN signifies “Normal For Norfolk.”

General practitioners may use LOBNH (“Lights On But Nobody Home”) or the impressively bogus Oligoneuronal to mean someone who is thick.

But they also have a somewhat poetic option: “Pumpkin positive”, referring to the idea that the person’s brain is so tiny that a penlight shone into his mouth will make his empty head gleam like a Halloween pumpkin.

The original article can be found here on the Herald website.

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