Archive for Medicalese

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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Hospice Care and Your Coccyx (er, Derrière)

With apologies to our feathered friends…

The nurse gave her morning report on the condition of a patient, an elderly gentleman with congestive heart failure. She noted concerns about his food intake and breathing, confirmed he’d lost weight in recent weeks, and reminded other hospice staff about his fall on the way to the bathroom before he became a hospice patient.

“Anything else?” the hospice medical director asked.

After a glance at her laptop screen, the nurse responded, “Some skin tears around the coccyx. But it’s mostly under control and healing.”

The doctor nodded. Good job. Next patient. Read More →

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