Being raised by a doctor, and having doctor friends, I have been exposed (all my life) to the semi-private, always sardonic, usually funny and sometimes sad language of medical professionals. I presume that my knowledge is vastly incomplete, not least because it's entirely U.S.-centric. Therefore, I propose we node it! There must be some docs on here who can do this more justice, but here goes to start the ball rolling.

These are all expressions heard in the day-to-day ops of a busy E.R./Trauma unit in a major city (where I used to hang out waiting for my doctor mom to finish up, even though she wasn't in the E.R - it was more interesting).

Medical Slang Terms

  • GOMER - acronym for Get Out of My Emergency Room. Reserved for fraudulent patients, junkies trying to score painkillers, whiny brats who just need a Band-Aid, and annoying bothersome clients of all types.
  • FLK - another acronym, this one standing for Funny Lookin' Kid. When there's just something...wrong with the child, but no-one knows precisely what it is. Very useful when a mother is insistent that her child is deadly ill when apparently the kid has colic, or is in fact just...not quite right, sometimes due to hyperattentive maternal care.
  • GORK - yup, another acronym. This one expands to God Only Really Knows, and is used to describe patients so screwy (as opposed to screwed up) that the staff really has no clue what their deal is. Used to refer to vegetative or catatonic patients, patients with unexplained coma, or just patients with interesting problems that have not yet been sucessfully diagnosed. Sometimes used to refer to those waiting for a specialist consultation.
  • 1F, 2F, 3F - a rating system for how 'out of it' a patient is. Refers to the number of flies that have landed on the patient's face without the patient attempting to brush them away.
  • IKF - contributed by Albert Herring, this one (of British extraction) apparently stands for 'In Kit Form' and is used to describe victims of trauma who show up in a slightly...disassembled form.

Let me emphasize that I know, personally, many of the physicians, nurses and medical technicians I have heard use these terms on a regular basis. In no way do they indicate a lack of care and empathy for the patients and their plights; if such were the case, the staff wouldn't bother to 'encode' their in-jokes. Rather, they appear to be one method of dealing with the extreme stress and grinding exhaustion that arises from dealing with a constant stream of suffering people, some of whom die anyway despite your best efforts, and few of whom are able to express thanks for their efforts.

Do you know any good medical slang? Add writeups!

bjcunning offers Turfed (TRF'd) - Transferred a patient's care to someone or somewhere else.

I only have two terms that can be added to the original node:

  • AMA Against Medical Advice. Speaks for itself, most often used when someone checks themself out of a hospital even though it was recommended that they stay. This generally leads to the next acronym.
  • YOYOMF You're On Your Own, Mother Fucker. Also speaks for itself. ;)
4F: Refers to the stereotypical cholelithiasis patient: Female, Forty, Fat, and Fertile

Gork: Derivations of the GORK (God only really knows) noted in another w/u on this node. Refers to a person who is totally braindead. A patient can be "a gork", or could be referred to as "gorked out".

Vitamin H: Haldol/Haloperidol, a popular antipsychotic neuroleptic drug.

Circling the drain: About to die

Road rash: Seen in MVA victims, refers to the abrasions on the skin due to being dragged on the asphalt.

Banana bag: The standard cocktail for alcoholics who have depleted their electrolytes. Contents vary by institution, but usually contain thiamine, glucose, and assorted other nutrients. So called because of its yellow colour.

MVA: Motor-vehicle accident. Now being overtaken by MVC (motor-vehicle collision)

Lytes: Short for electrolytes

Shotgunning: A discouraged practise among residents and others; refers to the practise of ordering every possible lab test without any concern for the presenting complaint.

Mother-in-law tumour: A meningioma. Referred to because, on angiography, it "comes early and stays late.

Babygram: Refers to the discouraged practise of taking an x-ray of a whole infant rather than of the area of interest.

Frequent flyer: Someone who's in and out of the ER/A&E/Casualty all the time, usually on less than earth-shattering complaints.

LOL: Little old lady

WADAO: Weak And Dizzy All Over

Cabbage (CABG): Nickname for coronary artery bypass graft.

Peanut (PNET): Nickname for primitive neuroectodermal tumour.

ash cash - payment received for filling out a cremation form

bash cash - payment for verifying assault claim

houseplant - junior house officer (first year doctor)

killing season, the - period around August in which freshly minted doctors (houseplants) take employment. 

LONH - patient with a suboptimal Glasgow Coma Scale score. 

P3 - standard A&E treatment (paracetamol/penicillin/discharge)

PGT - inebriated, involved in an altercation

PFO - inebriated, everything spinning

PDA - inebriated, denies all 

supra-tentorial - problem is located above the tentorium cerebelli 

top and tail - endoscope in both ends of the gastro-intestinal tract 

TTFO - asked to leave, usually the emergency department


I'll add a few more as they come to me.

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