In the mouths
of patients, medical terms can be funny things . . .
Favorite Jokes of Mountain Folks In Booger Hollow: "Old man Barton's gal
Susie almost drowneded a 'swimmin' in the crick last week. Ther wuz a college boy
a 'swimmin' wid her 'n he reskewed her 'n got her to breathin' agin.
was kinda weak so this here boy carries her in hiz arms to ole man Barton's place.
He sez to old man Barton, 'I'se just resuscitated yore daughter.'
BY AMY WUMMER
"Ole man Barton
yewer a'gonna marry her then!'"
A misunderstanding of medical terms,
as in this story, is a source of humor at times, but it's also a danger to good
patient communication. Recent communications from other practitioners affirm this
kind of degeneration?
Some good examples have been reported to me by
my friend Dr. John Muellerleile. One of his patients, when asked if he had any retinal
disease, replied, "Just hemorrhoids." Another patient told him, "My mother had rectal
degeneration." (Wouldn't it be less confusing if "rectus" did refer to muscles at
the other end of the anatomy?)
Other examples of patients' misunderstanding
medical terms in Muellerleile's office:
"The doctor says I need to make an
appointment for a dilated fungus examination." And:
"My mother had immaculate degeneration."(Same
comment came from a patient of Dr. Kevin Wulff.)
Another patient of his on the case
history form asking for occupation, wrote, "Whorehouse foreman." While obviously
a misspelling of "warehouse," one cannot help but ponder what such a job would involve.
Dr. Jerry Garber told me of an experience
many years ago with a retired Brazilian Army colonel, whom he had fitted with contact
lenses. He was instructed to increase his wearing time one hour each day. Three
weeks later, the colonel phoned him from Sao Paulo.
He reported that he was now up to 21
hours of wearing time, but he was very tired and when could he go to sleep?
may not know
You may not always be aware of how patients have
misunderstood you. They may get words mixed up without your being aware of it:
"An article in the Palm Beach Post
revealed what is the most incredible advance in medical science in the past
200 to 300 years," ophthalmologist friend Dr. Ben Milder emailed me. "They reported
that St. Louis Cardinals' outfielder Reggie Sanders had had acute appendicitis and
underwent an arthroscopic appendectomy. Can you imagine removing his appendix through
his knee? I assume they meant 'laparoscopic' appendectomy, but this is my nomination
for this year's winner for malapropisms."
Dr. Bob Arner reports of having advised a patient
that the frame she wanted would result in thick and heavy glasses. She insisted
anyway, but when she returned to be fitted she complained bitterly about their weight
and appearance. When reminded that she had been forewarned, she replied, "I know,
but you only told me once!"
To be sure your message is getting
through, you often gotta tell 'em more than once!!
OUR CONSULTING EDITOR, LIVES IN ROME, GA. HE'S
ALSO A PAST EDITOR OF OM. CONTACT HIM AT RUNNINGERJ@AOL.COM
Optometric Management, Issue: August 2005