What clinicians say and what they really mean…

Posted on June 18, 2008. Filed under: Benign |


After identifying what patients say and what they really mean, I suppose it is only fair to identify that it isn’t just the patient who says one thing, but means another….the clinician is equally as problematic.

Classically and easily recognised is the nurse aiming a needle at a juicy buttock whilst muttering the reassuring phrase: “This won’t hurt a bit” – meaning “This’ll hurt a lot!”

 Bend over…Just a small prick?

In other case it is simply an issue that the patients definition in real life is different to the clinicians. The best example of this is the terms “acute” and “chronic”. “Acute” in the patients mind translates directly into “serious.”

To clarify – “Acute” to a patient means: “Holy carp! I’m going to die soon”.

Whereas to a clinician it means: “You’ve come to see me about something that you’ve only had since this morning!”

On the other hand to a patient “chronic” means “I’m riddled with this thing and it’s going to slowly kill me!”

Whereas the clinician see “chronic” as: “You’ve had it for so long why have you decided to come and show me late on a Friday evening?”

So what else falls from the mouth of the clinician that needs interpretation…

“Hmmm, very interesting, I think we need to run a few test”

Means: “I’m sorry I haven’t a bloody clue what is wrong with you”

 or : “You’ve come in here with nothing wrong, and wasted every-ones time, consequently I shall punish you by making you have lots of uncomfortable procedures, hahahahahahahahahahahahaha!”

“If you’ve any concerns, come straight back and let me know!”

Means: “Don’t sue me, I’ve told you to come back if it all goes terribly wrong, so if you face swells to the size of a meteorite and implodes, it’s your fault for not coming back like I told you to”

“Hang on…I’ll be with you in a minute..”

means: “I’ve got something more important to do, you can get seen quicker if you become more ill than the person I’m currently spending all my time with; a cardiac arrest should do it, but the poor positioning of your pillow really doesn’t get a priority right now”.

or: “I’ll sort you out before you breach the governments latest targets.”

or: “I’ll sort you out before the government targets change yet again.”

There should be a bed on the ward for you any moment

means: “Someone on the ward has just had a cardiac arrest”

Just emptying a bed for you now sir…

 or: “The ward staff are just about to come off their coffee break”

There’s nothing to worry about…

means: “I’ve seen this done once or twice, so I’m sure I can do it”.

or:  “You death is imminent – why waste those last moments worrying about it?”

You might want to look the other way:

means: “I don’t want you to see how much my hands are shaking.”

or as I like to say to my patient… “You might want to look the other way, I know I’m going to…”  Mind you I also tend to answer quicker than the patient when the patients relative say’s “Do you want to hold my hand?”  with a speedy “Thanks, but I’ll just do this first”.  I am so professional.

Hmm, anyway where was I…oh yeah….

There’s no need to be embarrassed

means: I’m going to laugh when you’ve gone, then tell everyone in the office and then write about it on my blog….”

…not me of course, I wouldn’t do that…

…would I???

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One Response to “What clinicians say and what they really mean…”

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Max…How indecent! I never say “Bend over it’ll only be a little prick.”


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