January 03, 2008

Unexplained Beer Injury (UBI)

[By Crabby]

Back during the holidays while the Cranky Fitness team was sitting on its ass busy attending informative seminars and embarking on self improvement projects, the folks at Healthbolt were actually writing posts. Among their amusing offbeat holiday offerings was a great story on medical slang. And just in case it didn't get enough attention with the distraction of the holidays, we thought we'd steal the idea because it was funny resurrect it here for our readers' edification.

So did you know that medical professionals have a whole bunch of colorful terminology and official sounding abbreviations they use, strictly between themselves, to deal with difficult and patients and medical conditions?

Warning: these terms could be regarded as incredibly offensive, especially if you have recently lost a loved one. If you have, or if you otherwise don't approve of the whole notion, please skip this post and go directly to a better, more informative blog.

Still here? Cool.

Is it wrong to giggle at the idea that some medical professionals actually use these terms with each other and sometimes even jot them on patient charts? For those not easily offended, here is a random sampling for the Healthbolt story and from this compilation.

Brothel Sprouts - Genital warts

TFO - Too F*cking Old (person dying of old age)

CTS - Crazier than sh*t

Eiffel Syndrome - (From I-fell on it) patient with a foreign object in the rectum

CTD - Circling the Drain (patient expected to die soon)

Stream Team - urology dept

Peek and Shriek - open a patient surgically, discover an incurable condition, and close the incision immediately.

TLGP -Two Legged Guinea Pig - patient undergoing experimental or extreme treatments

Creepers - geriatrics using walkers and wheelchairs

OPD - Obnoxious Personality Disorder

Acute Lead Poisoning - Gunshot wound

Organ recital - a hypochondriac’s medical history

Horrendoplasty - A god-awful surgery with a probable poor outcome

Velcro - Family or friends accompanying patient everywhere

TTFO - Told To F*ck Off.

Oh, and do you think your nice veterinarian is totally above this sort of thing? Uh, sorry, no.

BSBF - buy small bags of food (almost dead)

CSTO - Cat Smarter Than Owner

So do these seem in dreadfully poor taste? Or have you heard any good ones, either from the medical field or some other profession where difficult customers/patients/situations must be dealt with?

(Oh and speaking of all things Medical, check out Marijke's great new blog for B-5: Help My Hurt!)


  1. I like off-color humor as much as the next person, but wow. Making fun of dying people is pretty low.

  2. I suppose people who work in medical jobs have to develop a thicker shell than the rest of us or they couldn't cope. More MASH than Grey's Anatomy. (Did I just date myself with that comment?)

  3. Hmm...Interesting point Chicken Girl.

    But while some of the terms (CTD in particular) seem callous and insensitive, I'm not sure I see them as making fun of the patient as much as the hopelessness of trying to save lives in some situations. But then (to date myself as well), I grew up on MASH and more recently have enjoyed shows like Six Feet Under, which take a pretty dark view of things.

    That said, if any of that stuff ever got out to patients' relatives that would be pretty reprehensible.

  4. I've been working in healthcare since I was a student nurse in (gulp) 1978, and I haven't heard the majority of those terms, although some of them are pretty funny. Others, well, we won't go there.

    Mary, I adored MASH. Best show ever.

  5. My cousin works for doctors in a family practice where they used "TFI" for a less than intelligent mother of a teen patient. The daughter had passed out several times during the course of the morning and the mom wondered if they thought she should see a doctor, and if so, could it wait until an expected delivery arrived.

    TFI = Total F*cking Idiot.

  6. I used to work in a hospital and my husband is a doctor. Those terms, and that irreverent attitude, keeps health-care professionals sane. We frequently use the "organ recital" term around here, but since the husband is a shrink, I haven't heard of some of those. I bet he hasn't either.

  7. I agree with Debbi. I think that people working in such an intense and serious field NEED to make jokes about things like that just to stay sane... if they can't make fun of something things I think they would just sink into depression dealing with all the awful things they see!

  8. I thought these were funny. Health care workers are under a great deal of strain and need to find a way to cope. As well, these abbreviations deliver information quickly.
    As for bad taste, well, back when I was reporting it was common to refer to a burn victim a Crispy Critter.
    It maintains some much-needed distance from the horrors found every day.

  9. I work in a lab off a hospital setting and have only heard a few of those...usually they're stuff the staff say in lounges away from staff...as a way of staying sane or when dealing with really difficult family/patients. The whole MASH sort of idea mostly. I think if I had to deal with neurotic, sick and dying people on a daily basis I'd get a few catch phrases of my own too...
    There's a great deal of respect for patients in the health care system...obly a few bad eggs/apples.
    Most of the workers are just keeping sane. Everyone's used some sort of comment at one time or another...I think they should be allowed a bit more leeway than most.

  10. OMG! Is it wrong that I found these hilarious?! I do after all have the sense of humor of a 12 year old boy... 'Brothel Sprouts!' LMAO!

    I can completely understand some of the more harsh terms, coming from docs anyway. Can you imagine if they didn't have that 'off' switch? They'd all be nutters!

    I think they need to have emotional distance between themselves and the patients in order to be effective. That is after all why most docs don't/shouldn't/aren't allowed (?) to work on those close to them (emotionally, not proximity! lol) Or maybe I just made that up. Can't believe everything you see on ER! ;)

  11. During my residency, I spent too many nights working in the Emergency Room. As a way of dealing with the high stresses of this environment, the ER crew had a "Chief Complaint of the week contest". I won with,"I can't find my string" one week! When the head of the ER found out about our contest, he asked us to stop, as he felt it was inappropriate. It did not affect our quality of care nor our caring, but we did stop.

    Dr. J

  12. The Bag Lady must be sick and twisted, 'cause she found these hilarious!
    Every high-stress profession (and some that aren't very stressful) has this sort of "blowing-off steam" method of coping. The Bag Lady sees nothing wrong with it. She's also really curious about that lost string Dr. J. was talking about!

  13. I think you guys all make great points about the need for stressed medical workers to get some distance. I'd have a hard time judging people who have to deal with tragedy on a daily basis from finding some dark humor in it, as long as it doesn't get back to the patients.

    And actually, some of the more obnoxious patients could probably benefit from knowing they were TFI's!

    BTW, we lost power earlier this morning and the lights just flickered again ominously. So if I disappear, it just means I'll be at the mercy of a beleaguered PG&E to get back online.

  14. My sis is a doc, and some of the stuff she deals with would make your head spin. I think this sort of thing helps her stay sane.
    And I am smarter than my cat! really!

  15. I'm with Glam, I thought they were hilarious.

    (btw Crabby, I finally went to the grocery store the other day and found the brand of that whole wheat pasta that we liked. It's Heartland. But ONLY the spiral shape- the penne tasted like cardboard)

  16. Haha, nyuk nyuk nyuk. If you can't joke about work (regardless of your job) then the stress becomes unmanageable.

  17. I used to work for a vet when I was in high school. It's really true! The doctors that I worked with had different codes, though. And most of the comments were warnings about the owners. One of my responsibilities was to file the records, but I'd get so caught up on what was written it took me twice as long as it should have!

  18. This reminds me of an episode of Homicide:life on the street. I think it had Robin Williams guest starring as a tourist who wife is shot and killed. The cops were joking that all victims say “all I saw was the gun, it was so big” and he overheard and was understandably upset. They had to explain to him that this was the way the police had to cope, if they didn’t joke they would fall to pieces because of all the tragedy they saw every day. I thought all the actors did a great job with the scene – anyone else see it?

  19. Very funny! There was something similar in police codes when I worked for the police department. You have to joke in a job that is filled with stress all of the time.

    Making fun of dying people is pretty low when you only have to deal with dying people once or twice in a lifetime.
    When you have to potentially deal with it once or twice a week or a day - you're not making fun of the dying, you are relieving stress so that you can treat the patient and their family with dignity.
    You wouldn't want a health care professional to come to you bawling (because they had just lost the umpteenth patient and have been working 30 + hours and are tired) to tell you your loved one had just died in spite of their best efforts.
    No, you want them to come in tell you the news gently with some empathy, able to coherently tell you the facts. If they have to joke around in the staff room to be able to do this, I say do it.

  20. Oops, sorry didn't mean to lecture ;)

  21. You're a little twisted but I like it ;). I think the terms are totally WRONG in a LMAO kind of way. I don't think it's making fun so much as well, if that is what the doctors have to do to keep things a little lighthearted so that they can do their job, then so be it, as long as they aren't calling people TFI to their faces. Of course now I want to memorize these and keep an eye out when the doctors are making notes in my chart. I'm sure they have PITA in there somewhere (pain in the ass).

  22. All the MASH comments make me feel like a little girl...My dad and I used to have MASH days, where we'd sit and watch marathons and have big 'ol sandwiches and water...Hehehe...In college, my Forensics professor would slip things like these into lecture, and you'd see everyone looking around like 'did he just say that?'. "Crispy Critter" is one of my favorites, as well as FUBAR (F*^ked Up Beyond All Recognition).

  23. "Buy Small Bags of Food" made me laugh--this summer my almost fifteen year old dog was dying of kidney failure, and I remember saying when I bought the last bag of special kidney diet "This is the smallest size it comes in, isn't it? He's not going to use this up." And when I went in to schedule his final appointment (a week after his fifteenth birthday) about five months after he was diagnosed, I said "Well, buying him a dog license this year wasn't such a bad investment after all."

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

  24. Thanks for the great comments everyone. And Mary Anne, so sorry to hear about your dog! Fifteen is pretty darn old for a dog, but still, it's a hard loss.

  25. RN, 76 grad. It's not only letting off steam, there are times things have to be communicated. While I agree that some of these are horrendous, there are some that are necessary.

    'CTS - Crazier than sh*t'
    is a good example! LOL You can't say that when talking to coworkers, but it's a good idea to give them a heads up!


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