The Secret Code Words Your Doctor Is Using, And What They Really Mean
Doctors and other health care professionals use a lot of jargon. They’ve also created acronyms and other terms to talk about you without you figuring out what they’re really saying. Some medical situations and conditions are so common they have their own “code names.” And you no longer have to wonder what they mean.
Here are the top secret code words doctors and other hospital staff might use in your presence — even when they’re trying to hide the fact that you’re driving them crazy.
1. Social injury of the rectum
It’s not uncommon for patients to show up in the emergency room with one of these. What does it mean, exactly? Nothing too complicated — some patients simply insert foreign objects up their rear ends and need to have them surgically removed.
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2. Whiney primey
First-time motherhood is understandably anxiety-inducing. But when an anxious mom-to-be repeatedly makes an appearance at a hospital thinking she’s in labor when she isn’t, she earns herself this name.
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Doctors apply this term to patients — most often elderly patients — who seem to continue living long after they shouldn’t be. FTD stands for “failure to die.” Sometimes these patients also earn the title of “walker” — a Walking Dead reference.
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4. Frequent flier
A “frequent flier” shows up repeatedly in an emergency room department, even if they don’t have serious health problems. Usually, these patients lack any other means of receiving — and paying for — the health care they require.
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5. A negative wallet biopsy
Patients who don’t have insurance coverage or who can’t otherwise pay for the care they require have a “negative wallet biopsy.”
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Everyone reacts to bad news differently, but some simply can’t cope with reality. Patients suffering from “dyscopia” may be experiencing “failure to cope” when they’re not emotionally handling a diagnosis or situation well.
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A “horrendoma” generally describes a medical case that’s extremely complicated, or a condition has left a patient in particularly bad shape. The suffix -oma refers to a tumor. But technically, these patients can have conditions other than “horrendous tumors.”
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You definitely don’t want a group of doctors and nurses to classify you as a GOMER — a “grand old man of the emergency room.” These patients often visit their local emergency room departments with complicated conditions hospital staff can’t cure. They’re often elderly.
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More experienced doctors often tell students or doctors-in-training not to look for “zebras.” A zebra appears when a doctor makes a series of rare or overly complicated medical diagnoses where more simple, straightforward conditions are present.
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The term “beemer” comes from body mass index, or BMI — the way doctors measure a person’s body fat based on their height and weight. A beemer typically has a high body mass index. It sounds slightly more polite than referring to someone as obese.
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11. ‘Clinic units’
Some patients are extremely sensitive to overhearing medical professionals talk about weight. Doctors sometimes use the term “clinic units” when having conversations amongst themselves. One clinic unit equals 200 pounds — some patients might weigh two or three of these.
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12. The bunker
A doctor won’t ever transfer a patient to “the bunker,” but you might hear a group of physicians mention it from time to time. It’s a private area in the hospital where doctors meet to unwind and discuss their caseloads.
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13. We’re transferring them to the ‘ECU’
You’ve heard of the intensive care unit (ICU), or even the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). The “ECU” is much worse. Doctors might discuss sending a patient to the “eternal care unit” if they’ve done all they can to treat them, but they’re still not going to make it.
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14. A dying swan
A patient who exaggerates their symptoms and acts like they’re feeling pain to get attention is known as a “dying swan.”
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15. Hollywood code
Instead of rushing to a patient who “codes,” or flatlines, sometimes doctors take their time getting to the scene. This only happens when they know they can’t save the patient, and plan on pronouncing them deceased. It’s often called a “Hollywood code.”
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