Saturday, 22 December 2007


Something interesting I read in The Star today:

"Doctors have always used a tribal vocabulary to communicate between themselves, but now their secret lingo is been enriched by the electronic media and urban slang.
Paul Keeley, a consultant in the department of palliative medicine at Glasgow Royal Infirmary in Scotland wrote to the weekly British Medical Journal a sample of new words that 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 the emergency room 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 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 of blame after the wrong leg or kidney is removed or some other particularly egregious foul-up happens.

# 404 moment: The point in a doctor's ward round when medical records cannot be located. Comes from 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 used by doctors, according to past letters to the BMJ, include UBI (for "Unexplained Beer Injury''), PAFO ("Pissed And Fell Over'') and Code Brown, or 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, he has 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,'' a rural English county.

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'' refers to the idea that a person's brain is so tiny that a penlight shone into their mouth will make their empty head gleam like a Halloween pumpkin."

I'm barely halfway through memorising real, academically-inclined medical acronyms and now they're imposing new ones on me? Just great.

Postscript: Stardust is brilliant. Not exactly up to the mark of the book, but impressive nevertheless. Plus, Claire Danes is simply superb as The Star (excuse me while I snort stupidly at this bad pun). You just have to love her every time she glows *smile*

Phew. Such big words from a small-time movie watcher.