In response to our post on gallows humor within the medical field, a reader points to "an annual round-up of the usage of medical slang by British physician Dr. Adam Fox of St Mary's Hospital, London." Examples:
6PFP - 6-pack and a fishing pole, as in "this patient doesn't need chemo, he needs 6PFP." - Usually referring to an end-stage patient who should go die somewhere else.
ART - Assuming Room Temperature (dying)
Ash cash - UK peculiarity of house officers obtaining payment for signing cremation form
As the son and brother of doctors, I regularly experienced the sometimes cringe-worthy humor that they employed to get themselves through the day. My dad is a surgeon who served in Vietnam from '69-'70 and was the go-to guy at his hospital for particularly gruesome procedures. When my brother was a resident fresh out of med school, he would tell me about ER patients who were beyond help and would not survive. He and his colleagues had an acronym for such patients: AMF YOYO, which stands for "Adios motherfucker, you're on your own."
The best example I've seen of black humor in emergency medicine is the Student Doctor Network forum's thread Things I Learn from My Patients, in which med students, trauma surgeons, emergency medicine doctors and nurses, firefighter-EMTs (like me), paramedics, and others tell stories about the patients they have who are often both horrendous and hilarious. It's an enormous thread and stretches back years, but I've read it beginning to end several times because the stories are so funny and it's such a good relief valve.
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