Friday, March 11, 2011

Abbreviations in your medical report may bother you . . .

. . . according to a Daily Mail report.

Hospital doctors may treat their patients with professional concern.

But privately they could well be summing them up as GLMs, FLKs or even TBPs.

The initials are part of a code used by doctors to describe their patients to colleagues in sometimes unflattering terms.

For while a GLM is a ‘good looking mum’ who probably has GLL - ‘great looking legs’ - an FLK is a ‘funny looking kid’ while a TBP is a ‘total bloody pain’.

GROLIES, meanwhile, refers to a ‘Guardian reader of low intelligence in an ethnic skirt’.

An intoxicated man turning up in A&E might well have a UBI, or ‘unexplained beer injury’, and if he was particularly rude he might be a CLL or ‘complete low life’.

Other terms include ‘house red’ for blood, ‘slashers’ for general surgeons and the ‘Freud Squad’ for psychiatrists.

Details of the slang have been revealed by senior consultant Dr Adam Fox, based at Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospital in London, who said it had been used on wards for years.

He claimed that staff would once write the code on medical records, but this was now less common as many patients want to see their own files.

Dr Fox said: ‘Humour is a way of coping with patients’ distress at loss, grief, disease and death.’

A ‘Handbag Positive’ refers to an elderly woman lying on the bed still clutching her handbag, a TBP, is a ‘total bloody pain’ and an FLK is a ‘funny looking kid’.

The ‘departure lounge’ is the geriatric ward, ‘house red’ is blood and ‘PRATFO’ describes ‘patient reassured and told to f*** off’.

There's more at the link, including a long list of the abbreviations in question. Given a couple of my previous articles on this blog, I particularly liked TEETH - 'Tried Everything Else, Try Homeopathy'!

With two nurses in the family (not to mention a blogging buddy who's into this stuff), I'm accustomed to medical humor of this sort. Some readers may be scandalized that medical personnel would joke in this way, but as Dr. Fox points out in the article, it's a coping mechanism, something designed to help bear what is sometimes all but unbearable.

I'm irresistibly reminded of a difficult time at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town during the 1970's. My girlfriend at the time had qualified as a nurse, and was doing her post-graduate Midwifery training there. There was an unfortunate spate of 'blue baby' births. The Matron in charge of the midwifery class wanted to remind her students to be alert for symptoms of this problem, and so she put up a big notice in their lounge. It read:


It didn't take long before someone added, in large black letters:




Old NFO said...

Sick humor (to the outsiders) but a GOOD release if you work in that world every day... :-)

Anonymous said...

Get out of my emergency room.

My sister and sister in law, bothe ER nurses loved this!


Phillip said...

Computer techs have our own acronyms, and I think just about everyone who has to deal with people on a regular basis does. It relieves the tension caused by dealing with people who are being obtuse about something. Medical professionals have a higher than normal incidence of this, too.

CarolG said...

As I have mentioned to some of my co-workers Friendly as in F'ing stands for friendly, right. This way we can mention the friendly family down the hall without getting feedback from the supervisor.