What Doctors Really Mean When They Write In Your Chart

Doctors have their own language. Once you've been in the business for a few years, you quickly learn what other doctors actually mean when they document their findings in the medical chart. Here is a list of commonly found descriptions doctors use and what they are really trying to say when they write it. Be warned, this is not for the faint of heart, only the truth according to Happy.
  • WNL = we never looked
  • HONDA = Hypertensive-Obese-Noncompiant-Diabetic-Asshole
  • Neuro exam nonfocal = neuro exam not done
  • Consult medicine for medical management= call medicine with all the annoying unimportant aspects of hospitalization
  • Consult hospitalist for pre-op evaluation = need H&P
  • FH noncontributory = FH not done
  • Well nourished = fat 
  • Grossly normal = not evaluated 
  • Supratentorial  = it's all in your head 
  • High maintenance = annoying and time consuming
  • Complex case= this is taking too much of my time so call the hospitalist
  • Pleasant = pleasant 
  • Poor historian = not helpful at all
  • Summer teeth = some 'er ther and some aren't 
    • True story!:  So we're sitting in a small town bar tonight (called the Ding-a-Ling) and I hear those two older guys taking about their housing businesses. Builder Guy: Business is better. It got pretty bad in '08 with the recession. Landlord Guy: Not me. When the banks stopped lending in '08, the quality of my tenants went through rough the roof. They actually had teeth. Ha! I guess the Tooth:Tattoo ratio has far reaching consequences outside of medicine too.
    • Things I've learned from homeless people: You can eat meat without teeth, but it's impossible to eat peanuts! On the job training....
  • "Heart problems" = an example of an orthopaedic past medical history 
  • Drug seeker = looking for a fix 
  • Fakasia= faking stroke like symptoms (hat tip to my partner colleague on this one!) 
  • "Reviewed, see chart"= I didn't actually review it, but you can find what you're looking for in the chart
  • Bilateral cellulitis = easiest way to justify a morbidly obese GOMER admission to the hospital
  • Social nightmare = impossible to discharge for non-medical reasons
  • No reserve=patient is dying and can't recover
  • Too fat to breath = too fat to breath 
  • Bounce back= readmission to the hospital 
  • Code blue= cardiac or pulmonary arrest 
  • Code brown= diarrhea explosion 
  • Shitty consult = too hard, taking too much time and they don't have insurance
  • Frequent flier=frequent contacts with hospital 
  • Lack of objective data=nothing is wrong with you 
  • Circling the drain = close to death 
  • subjective= I don't believe you
  • Interesting case = not interesting, just take it off my hands
  • DNR = Dead 'N Ready
  • Informed consent = just sign here
  • H&P= a copy and paste old records
  • Progress note = documentation to support our bill to your insurance company 
  • Fibromyalgia = I will not be happy  no matter what
  • Admit for pain control = GOMER
  • I don't know what's going on = call hospitalist
  • Q4 hour neuro checks = need inpatient criteria for placement
  • 2 beers a day = 12 beers a day
  • I quit smoking  = my last cigarette was yesterday
  • They're a fighter = they'll never be DNR
  • Vet like qualities = nothing will kill them
  • DND = darn near dead
  • Panpositive ROS =  nothing is wrong.  See supratentorial
  • Polypharmacy = too many medications to think about
  • "Instead of adding another pill, why don't we try a dost of grow the f**k up instead. --said no doctor ever."
    Instead of adding another pill, why don't we try a dose of grow up instead said no doctor ever ecard humor photo.
    "If you've been diagnosed with polypharmacy, don't worry.  We've got a pill for that."
Polypharmacy we've got a pill for that ecard humor photo

  • Polyallergy = fibromyalgia
  • Bilateral pneumonia in a noncompliant dialysis patient = not pneumonia
  • Fluid overload = I ate too much salt on my bacon
  • Noncompliant = We can't help you
  • Poor coping mechanisms = any combination of yelling, crying, complaining, anger or threatening
  • Benzodiazepines = peace and quite for doctors and nurses
  • 7 page standard order set = I don't want any phone calls.
  • Sieve = an ER doctor that requests admission for everything
  • Observation status = needs nursing home, too weak to go home
  • Discharge = leaving the hospital
  • SNF = nursing home with skilled nurses.
  • C=MD
  • Difficult family = asks too many questions
  • Complex situation = there is no right answer
  • Unreasonable = family doesn't get it.
  • Abdominal pain out of proportion to exam = drug seeker.  The answer is never mesenteric ischemia
  • Chronic pain syndrome = I can't help you in the hospital
  • Cachectic = patient is dying
  • Malingering = we don't believe you.
  • Precious = funny looking kid
  • Medically retired = disabled
  • If you understand every one of these, you must be a hospitalist!  Please feel free to leave your additional wisdom in the comments.  Doctors don't limit this practice to just the patient's chart. They even say one thing but think another when communicating patient transfers with each other, as this original crude medical humor e-card describes.

    "What doctors are really thinking vs what doctors really say."

    What doctors really mean ecard humor

    This post is for entertainment purposes only and likely contains humor only understood by those in a healthcare profession. Read at your own risk.  

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