Archive for Medicalese

Gas Exchange?

Embarrassment detours us away from knowledge. Assumptions interfere with understanding. Ignorance leads to poor decisions. And so, let’s exchange some thoughts about . . .

Gas?

I thought about these three—embarrassment, assumptions, ignorance—when I finally spent a few moments learning about a health concern that has been frequently referenced during my hospice’s weekly patient care meetings.

While reviewing patients, all of them nearing death, we mention odd words like cachexia and ascites. I eventually learned what those meant. We have discussions with health care medicalese like POLST, PRN, and SOB. The meaning behind those acronyms became second nature to me. I also didn’t have to ask a nurse or do a web search for “anticipatory grief” or a Foley catheter. There were some things I already knew!

Years ago, while attending those initial weekly meetings (officially dubbed IDGs, or InterDisciplinary Groups), I recall hearing the term “gas exchange.”

Gas exchange?

Really? Read More →

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Alert & Oriented, with Dying and Grieving

Alert and oriented might be my earliest hospice memory for describing a patient.

If a patient is alert and oriented, she’ll be able to tell you who she is, her location (“Community Hospital”), the date and time (“It’s Tuesday morning in June of 2018”), and the current president (“President Trump was elected around 2016”). While there could be additional questions, like a birthday or naming children in the patient’s family, those four are relevant and will be revealing about his/her situation.

If someone is confronted with a serious illness, would it really be fair to ask about last year’s Academy Award for best picture? Sure, film geeks may immediately recall The Shape of Water nabbed the 2017 Oscar, but even high-profile entertainment news slips and slides unnoticed into the 24/7 information overload all of us—well or sick—may easily forget. Read More →

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Hospice SOBs

Some hospice patients have MOM charted for one of their prescribed medications.

Hey, who wouldn’t want a mother’s love when entering into hospice care? Mom knows best, right? But wait! MOM is one of hospice’s (and health care’s) endless acronyms, an abbreviation for the familiar Milk of Magnesia.

Then there’s SOB, which I’ve written about before . . . but every time I see it as a concern for a patient, I’m still taken aback.

The acronym means Short Of Breath rather than the curse, “You son of a _ _ _ _ _!” Read More →

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