Sunday, October 13, 2002

The November 2002 Harper's issue is currently being happily digested. Before I give a full review, I have to pause and reflect on one of the brief Readings that begins each issue (I aspire one day to contribute such a reading... is that lame or what?).

Hippocratic Oafs
From a list of medical slang compiled by Adam Fox and excerpted in the British Medical Journal. According to Fox, a London pediatrician, many of the terms are used in doctors' notes and medical reports....

An online reprint that excerpts from the list.

When Annanova reported on said list, they indirectly quoted medical unions as warning "doctors they could be sued or embarrassed in court if the slang is discovered". Very true - it happened here in my current hometown of Windsor. Despite the fact that you can hear most of said slang on ER today when people discover that their child has been referred to as a FLK or "funny looking kid", they get upset and take action.

WINDSOR, Ont. (CP) _ Angry that her newborn baby had the acronym FLK _ for funny-looking kid _ written on her medical chart, a mother has complained to the hospital where her Down's syndrome child was born.

Determined to change attitudes, Cynthia Lane is also preparing a complaint to the Ontario Human Rights Commission against Windsor Regional Hospital where she gave birth to her daughter, Julia, in August....

[reprinted from Canadian Press Newswire]

And while there is something delightfully scandlous about medical slang, I also think its use is also refreshingly human, a coping mechanism in the face of death, to be poetic. And it also highlights the power in bad words.

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