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Monday, May 19, 2014

The real meaning behind medical jargon

A short while ago I write an article asking "What on earth is neurocardiogenic syncope?"

Does merely describing what happened actually qualify as a diagnosis?  I think not.  Just as merely suppressing symptoms with a drug does not qualify as a cure.

In my experience, one of the purposes of  medical jargon is to confuse and obfuscate so as to hide the fact that the learned priestly professional on high doesn't really know what he is talking about.

Let me tell you a story:

My first real job, upon graduating from the University of Otago's Faculty of Physical Education in 1976, was working in the rehabilitation gymnasium and hydrotherapy pool of Dunedin Hospital.  One day a referral came through from one of the orthopaedic surgeons.  On the form was hand-written, "IDKJ, knee strengthening exercises".  Having never heard of IDKJ, I summoned the courage to consult my rather imposing boss, the Head of Physiotherapy, Margaret Brensel.  I knocked on her office door, waiting to be summoned in before entering.
"Mrs Brensel, may I have your advice about a referral?" I asked nervously.
"Yes, how may I help?"
I handed her the referral.
"Can you tell me what IDKJ means?"
She frowned as she studied the form then looked up and in a dry, knowingly way said,
"Internal Derangement of the Knee Joint".
Without any further explanation, she handed the from back while beckoning me towards the door and resuming her paperwork.
"Thank you Mrs Brensel", I replied as I made my way to the door, none the better off.
"Gary, one more thing".
Without lifting her eyes from what she was reading, "I Don't Know Jack-sh...."
"Thank you", I replied once again and left, now all the wiser!

Since that day I have been a cynic when I hear of long-winded diagnoses and I like to make fun of some.

Here are a few of my fictitious favourites:

Tired Furniture Syndrome (TFS)

This terrible affliction happens when your chest sags into your drawers.

Wobbly Wheels Syndrome (WWS)

"Gary, no matter what I do, I always seem to get another injury as soon as I resume training".

Soft Body Syndrome (SBS)

That's modern living for you!

So, when you read of Neurocardiogenic Syncope (NS), what does that sound like to you?  NS?  Sounds like BS to me!

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