August 20, 2003

"Pumpkin Positive"

Via Iain Murray, an article on what doctors are really writing down...

...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 acronyms designed to spell out the unsayable truth about their patients.

The increasing rate of litigation means that there is a far higher chance that doctors will be asked in court to explain the exact meaning of NFN (Normal for Norfolk), FLK (Funny looking kid) or GROLIES (Guardian Reader Of Low Intelligence in Ethnic Skirt).

Dr Fox recounts the tale of one doctor who had scribbled TTFO - an expletive expression roughly translated as "Told To Go Away" - on a patient's notes.

He told BBC News Online: "This guy was asked by the judge what the acronym meant, and luckily for him he had the presence of mind to say: 'To take fluids orally'."...

Top medical acronyms
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

I think if you are in medicine you have to laugh or go crazy. Charlene's from a medical family, so this sort of grim humor is not unfamiliar to me. Her dad was an Army surgeon in WWII and ran a MASH in Korea.

Also, should you wish to immerse yourself in this subject, I highly recommend the extremely (and painfully) funny book House of God: The Classic Novel of Life and Death in an American Hospital , by Samuel Shem, MD.

Posted by John Weidner at August 20, 2003 8:51 PM
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