Saturday, March 22, 2008

Funny Medical Terms

On-call this weekend. Spending altogether too much in the hospital, I am struck by some funny medical terms which are frequently bandied about and, frighteningly, have become a normal part of my vocabulary (while in the hospital, at least). Some of my favorites:

1. "bathroom privileges." Nurses will often record the volume of urine from a patient that is hospitalized and this number is recorded in a chart. It's often necessary for the kidney patients that I see. For patients who are exempt from having their urine recorded, on their charts they will get the coveted acronym "BRP" which stands for "bathroom privileges." Yes, going to the bathroom is a PRIVILEGE, not a RIGHT, when you are a patient in the hospital.

2. "foul-smelling". Often you will hear this as an adjective describing some bodily fluid...e.g., "the patient presented with a foul-smelling ulcer." In my opinion this is pretty harsh--you don't have to rub it in, we get the picture--it smells bad!

3. "bleeding like stink". When a patient is having profound blood loss--e.g., from their G.I. tract, for instance--they are often to be said to be "bleeding like stink." Why stink? This has never made sense to me, and yet I use the phrase from time to time myself.

4. "code brown." One of my personal faves. All hospitals have a system of overhead pages. At our hospital, for instance, a "Code Blue" is a medical code (e.g., somebody stops breathing) and a "Code Pink" is when there is a baby missing from the nursery. A "Code Brown" is a fictitious but universally-understood code for when a patient drops a large #2 in his or her bed.

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