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Thursday 18th January 2018

Can patients use acronyms too?

21st February 2008

Doctors' coded acronyms could be used by patients to pass on information or warn others about their GP, writes John Appleby in The Guardian.


The fact that doctors use codes to pass on messages to other doctors is "no surprise". This type of humour and lack of politeness could be seen as shocking, but we know from the media portrayal of those working in the health professions that they are not always perfect.

Patients can have their revenge on those who treat them by using acronyms against them. When a patient waits to see their doctor, they should look around to see if any "graffiti" has been left by other patients as a message to others.

Acronyms such as "COWWOW (Can't Open Weekends, Won't Open Weekends); TOTSIE (Too Overpaid To Stay Open In Evening)", act to warn other patients.

Watch out too for: "NOTFART (No Time For A Reassuring Talk), or ASHHWYG (Always Says He's Had What You've Got)".

In the outpatients department, the messages are also in evidence: "COST (Consultants Overpaid, Still Troublesome), HEAL (Health Employees Accumulate Lolly) and CHRONIC (Consultants Have Really Only Noticed Improved Cash)."

What about the words left on the desk in the consultant's office: "CORPSE (Consultant Only Respects Private Sector Elderly)"? Or, more worrying to someone about to have a surgical consultation, the words scrawled on a door sign: "DOKTOR: Doesn't Always Know The Elbow from the Rear."

When a patient lies awake in the morning, kept from sleep by the noise from the nurse's station, they will take no comfort from the words "CUTSAWONS...clearly visible on the bedside table: Consultant Unlikely To Stay Awake On Night Shift."


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