Medical slang

Lovely article in BBC News yesterday: Doctor slang is a dying art.

So says a doctor who has spent four years charting more than 200 colourful examples. Medicine is a profession already overflowing with acronyms and technical terms, and doctors over the years have invented plenty of their own.  However, Dr Adam Fox, who works at St Mary's Hospital in London as a specialist registrar in its child allergy unit, says that far fewer doctors now annotate notes with acronyms designed to spell out the unsayable truth about their patients.
Dr Fox recounts the tale of one doctor who had scribbled TTFO - an expletive expression roughly translated as "Told To Go Away" - on a patient's notes. He told BBC News Online: "This guy was asked by the judge what the acronym meant, and luckily for him he had the presence of mind to say: 'To take fluids orally'."

Some of my favourite terms mentioned in the article:

  • CTD - Circling the Drain (a patient expected to die soon)
  • NFN - Normal for Norfolk
  • GPO - Good for Parts Only
  • TEETH - Tried Everything Else, Try Homeopathy
  • UBI - Unexplained Beer Injury
  • GROLIES - Guardian Reader Of Low Intelligence in Ethnic Skirt

(Norfolk is  county in the east of England, part of East Anglia where I grew up.  However, I came from Suffolk, the county immediately south of Norfolk, therefore that much closer to civilisation.  Both counties are largely rural.)

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