Thursday, February 17, 2011

Thursday Top Ten: Fighting words

Top ten medical jargon-ish terms to use about patients on rounds that (if overheard) will guarantee that they:

a.)  have no idea what you are talking about
b.)  kick your ass or get someone else from the waiting room to kick your ass
c.)  never come to see you again
d.)  all of the above


acute:  (adj.)  a relatively new problem

Doctor: "This really isn't an acute thing at all."

Patient: "Oh yeah? Well, I think you're a-ugly, too."


unremarkable:  (adj.)  in medical terms, this means completely normal, which is a good thing.

Resident to attending on rounds: "Nothing about her jumped out at me. Everything about her screams unremarkable."

Patient in hospital bed: "Well, you ain't exactly Brad Pitt yo' damn self!"


impressive:  (adj.)  something that's so abnormal on physical exam that it warrants bringing the medical students in to see.

Attending: "I'm pretty sure this meets criteria for micro-penis."

Medical student: "Wow. That's pretty impressive, Dr. Johnson."

Patient (with big smile and raised eyebrows): "Ya think so? I'm so flattered."


S.O.B.: (n)  shortness of breath

Resident in the ER speaking to his colleagues while putting his initials next to the complaint listed on the board:  

"I think I'll take this S.O.B. right here!"

The patient sitting in a hall spot in the ER speaking into his cell phone as that same resident approaches him:   

"I guess I'm stuck with this S.O.B. as my doctor today!"


appreciate:  (v.)  what you see on physical examination when looking at a patient.

Patient:  "But look at my ankle! Can't you see it's swollen?"

Doctor:  "I don't appreciate that."

Patient:  "Appreciate what?"

Doctor:  "Swelling in your ankle."

Patient:  "Well it ain't like I twisted it on purpose, you self-centered jerk!"


presentation:  (n.)  what a person looks like when they arrive at the hospital, or the act of discussing a patient with another physician.

Attending:  "What was her presentation like?"

Intern:  "It was so impressive. You wouldn't even know she was the same person!"

Patient, in bed: "What presentation? I didn't give no presentation."

Attending:  "Just one moment, sir, I'm listening to your doctor's presentation."

Intern: "Yeah, my presentation about your presentation."

Patient:  "Say what?"


tachy: (adj.)  an abbreviation used to describe someone who is tachycardic, or in other words, that has a fast heart rate. Pronounced "tacky."  tachy = fast, cardic = heartrate

Attending (feeling pulse of patient):  "You didn't tell me she was so tachy!"

Intern:  "I thought I'd mentioned it during my presentation. Yeah, she was super tachy from the moment she arrived."

Patient:  "Well it ain't like that comb-over and those pleated poly-blend slacks you have on scream Project Runway, either, you rude bastard!"


express:  (v.)  to get pus out of something.

Attending:  "Were you able to express anything from her?"

Intern:  "No. We tried but couldn't express anything."

Patient:  "Tha's 'cause y'all don't listen to nobody! I can express myself very well!"


marked:  (adj.)  pronounced mark-ed, describes something substantial or . . .impressive.


Resident:  "I think this marked weight gain represents heart failure and fluid retention."

Intern: "Hmm. You may be right. Twenty pounds in two weeks is some pretty marked weight gain."

Patient: "Wow! You think I gained twenty pounds just from trying all those samples when I was in the supermarket?"


chronic:  (adj.)  something that's been going on for a long time

Intern:  "The chronic cough is the main thing I'm concerned about."

Patient:  "Aww, damn doc! My ol' lady keep telling me to stop smoking The Chronic so much!"

Intern:  "Uuuhh, okay."


Before you jump off of the exam table and tear your doctor a new one. . . . take a moment to ask them exactly what they meant by that. . . . .and if they meant to call you an S.O.B., then you have my permission to proceed with the butt-whooping. :)


  1. Wow, some of those are hilarious! :)

  2. Too funny!!! :D

    I can't get myself to say S.O.B., I guess I'm too scared, so I just stick with dyspnea at the risk of sounding like a pompous jerk (still better than sounding like a rude jerk and getting a bloody nose for it!).

  3. Mine is 'You're looking good'
    As a stroke survivor this is quite the insult because it assumes that looks are everything.

  4. Funny post on our crazy medical lingo. Hey Dr. M. How are the layoffs at Grady affecting you?

  5. The physicians have been spared. . . . but I'd say that with this economy and all of the changes we're seeing has been really, really eye-opening. ... yeah.

  6. Anush--don't worry about it. After almost 20 years I'm still not calling patients by labels and I'm certainly not worse off for it. Hey Kim, I would like to add one. Gap: (n) a term used to aid in the evaluation of a metabolic acidosis

    Me in the Grady ER: "I smell ketones (a certain type of smell given off by patients with uncontrolled diabetes). Somebody in here most have a very large gap."

    Patient (on stretcher bed next to me): "That would be me." Patient then smiles and points to the wide opening where her front teeth use to be!


"Tell me something good. . . tell me that you like it, yeah." ~ Chaka Khan

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