Evidence that it's a good thing patients don't know what happens in hospitals ....

I love this BBC story about how doctors slag off their patients without them knowing ...  I know it's from 2003 but I only just came across it. They don't call me the Zeitgeist Blogger for nothing, you know.

I used to work as a medical secretary in the National Health Service in my pre-teacher days.   I remember one doctor telling me that, if he had an awkward patient, he would warn the next doctor to see that person by writing at the end of the patient's notes 'is suffering from serious proctalgia'.  As 'algia' means 'pain' and 'proct' means 'bottom', you can see that this wasn't exactly a compliment.

Another source of medical misunderstandings - only this time not deliberate - was when we secretaries used to take doctors' letters down in shorthand before typing them up for signature.  When I was first a medical secretary and didn't yet know all the terms, one doctor dictated to me what I THOUGHT was ... 'I recommend this patient has a Baloney amputation'.   I presumed that there'd been a Dr Baloney who'd invented this operation, although I'd not heard of it before.

I duly typed it up in the letter and it was only when I put the letter in front of the doctor and he had a fit of the giggles that I realised I had made a mistake.

He'd said 'below-knee'.

That wasn't as bad as another medical secretary in our office whose doctor had dictated that a patient should have a 'D & C' (dilettation and curettage - a womb procedure).

She'd typed, 'I recommend your patient should have a day at the sea.'

'Yay!  Didn't think you could get this kind of thing prescribed on the National Health!!  I wonder if
they'd fund a few weeks in Hawaii?'


  1. Hmm, can think of lots of candidates for a Baloney amputation. A friend (anonymous to protect the guilty) used to put 'T' for thick and 'S' for smelly on her patients' notes.

  2. nfn on a patient's notes means: normal for Norfolk.
    Work it out.
    There are loads of abbreviations that doctors don't tell you about unless you're their friend and you know where the bodies are buried.

  3. Oh, dear. I'm sure I would make those same mistakes, too! A lot of doctors seem to have a weird sense of humour... But I like it!

  4. A day at the sea!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Perhaps we need some shorthand for doctors that patients can use: a la NFN, how about DFD (as in dumb f**king doctor)? Disclaimer: some of my best friends are doctors. But some other doctors are not my friends at all . . .

  6. Thanks for the laugh! That article was hilarious!

  7. I believe such typos occur in other walks of life. Manys the politician who has received a baloney kickback for services rendered...

  8. Great article - I'd heard of some of those - through doc friends - but not GROLIES (perhaps they didn't tell me that one because it was me?!). I agree with Raining Acorns that there could be acronyms for some docs, like TPMDAL - Try Putting your Mobile Down (stop texting student nurse girlfriend) And Listen.....

  9. Oh, 'a day at the sea'! I thought you said 'diet and see'.

  10. That was funny, "Baloney amputation".

    I worked for my great-uncle (general family practitioner) organizing his files and encountering patients. Some patients wanted more from him than they needed, others needed more than they wanted. In both groups, there was always a proctalgia sufferer.

  11. My old consultant - who I always regarded as a bit of a mate - once showed me my file where he had written IG11. When I asked what that stood for he simply replied that it was the postcode for Barking.

  12. ooo I have a hospital appt. on Thursday so I hope not to hear any of these terms. lol at 'below knee'

  13. I remember when the Docs used to write FLK in some babies notes (funny looking kid) They'd be shot at dawn now.

  14. Love it - and the comment about the postcode for Barking. :)

    Let's see if I can find this email I saved that did the rounds a while back about sentences typed by Medical NHS secretaries... oh yes, here it is. A selection for you:

    1. While in ER, she was examined, x-rated and sent home...

    2. She has no rigors or shaking chills, but her husband states she was very hot in bed last night.

    3. She stated that she had been constipated for most of her life until she got a divorce..

    4. Examination of genitalia reveals that he is circus sized.


  15. A chap once gave a presentation on what I thought he'd announced were going to be Edinburgh psychopaths, which I found rather alarming till I realised that he was describing our useful network of paths for cyclists. And another, with a broad Belfast accent, gave a long presentation on the rats in the Troubles, during which I twigged that he meant riots.

  16. Do you think shamans do this too ?

  17. Ha.

    I'd love if they'd pay for a trip to Hawaii. I could use a rest.

  18. ah well the GPs in our surgery get nicknames.
    I go for the always on time, in & out, tell him what you want, get a prescription in your hand & waste no time Doc ! It worked with "sore throat from Hell" having been fobbed off by the other " Try a gargle " Doc !

  19. Anonymous11/3/11 12:42

    Great post! Really enjoyed it x


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Reasons why Fran is desperately in search of earbuds

Reasons why Fran can now forgive the ironing board incident

Evidence that overflowing Tupperware cupboards aren't the only problem later life brings