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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.