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Secret medical slang: Are doctors making fun of you behind your back?

Secret medical slang: Are doctors making fun of you behind your back?
photo courtesy of SHUTTERSTOCK

Do you know what chandelier syndrome is? What about Acute Dilaudid Deficiency? Doctor-speak is so complicated and technical that it's difficult to track what they're saying to each other. But mixed in with actual medical jargon, your healthcare workers could be sharing a joke at your expense.

Author and Emergency room physician Brian Goldman has released a new book called "The Secret Language of Doctors," and it details all the slang and other jargon that doctors and nurses use.

Have you heard any of these terms before? Here are just a few of them, according to Goldman:

  • Chandelier syndrome: When a patient jumps after feeling a cold stethoscope.
  • Frequent fliers: These are people who show up at the emergency room again and again, even for non-emergency complaints, potentially because they have nowhere else to receive care.
  • The bunker: This is where medical students, residents, and attending physicians meet behind closed doors to talk.
  • Monkey jacket: A hospital gown.
  • Peek-and-shriek: An operation in which a surgeon opened a patient's belly to find something unexpected, like cancer, and quickly it stitched up again.
  • Cowboys: Surgeons may be called "cowboys" to imply they operate first and think later.
  • Plumbers: Urologists.
  • Gas passers: Anesthesiologists.
  • Discharged Up: After stopping resuscitation efforts, a patient may be "discharged up," "discharged to heaven."
  • In the departure lounge: Someone who is dying but still holding onto life.
  • Circling the drain: A patient that can't be saved and is near death.
  • FLK: Funny-looking kid, referring to the facial characteristics of a child.
  • Curly toes: Often referred to as homeless people because of the condition of their feet and toenails.
  • Nonpayoma or a negative wallet biopsy: Those without insurance.
  • Incarceritis: The condition of a prisoner who fakes an illness to go to the hospital. If that prisoner is looking for drugs to peddle later to their cellmates, they may have ADD—not attention deficit disorder, but "Acute Dilaudid Deficiency," with Dilaudid being one of the strongest prescription narcotics.
  • Status dramaticus:  Stressed-out patients who believe they're extremely sick or dying but actually aren't.
  • Whiney primey: A pregnant woman who keeps returning to the hospital because she thinks she's in labor but isn't.
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Source: Mother Jones
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