Monthly Mangled Medicalese (MMM)

The language of medicine is highly evolved and complex and allows clear, detailed, specific and unambiguous descriptions. Except when it’s not.

Here is this month’s collection of mangled medicalese, culled from charts I have read, patients I have treated, and colleagues and friends who have shared. I will continue to post a selection monthly until my supply runs out. If you have a contribution to make, you can add it in comments below (login required) or send it to me for a future installment. I will explain only those where explanation seems necessary to understand either the phrase or the humor. The rest will stand - or fall - on their own. If you have questions or alternative interpretations, please don’t hesitate to use the comments.

Definition of the month:

Documentile dysfunction: when poor history takers get histories from poor historians.


Patient contributions:

"I don't want to be incubated again." {intubated}

"That scar is from my rotor cop {rotator cuff} surgery."

I have a colonoscopy every 5 years because they found pollen {polyps}


Physician contributions:


"Non-audible wheezes were heard on the left."

From a history and physical on admission for vomiting and diarrhea: "Plan - gently dehydrate."


Staff and chart contributions: 

Notation in the chart describing why the patient insisted on leaving AMA {against medical advice}: "I want to live."

Nurse description of reason for admission: "He could not buy polar meds." {bipolar meds}


That’s all for this month. Contributions and comments welcome.


Links to more on this topic::