Media Medicine Joe Segen
As defined in this work, Media medicine encompasses the core language of medicine, popularly known as Medspeak, a jargon-based, region-specific patois first learned in medical school, which forms the basis for communication among medicos. Also included in this group is medical slang which, simplistically, is a rude extension of Medspeak; made-up diseases and syndromes created by screenwriters, bloggers and sundry scribes; conditions bearing the name of a famous person or known fictional character and, because I didn’t know where else to put it, sexology.
Medspeak is the most widely used term for medicine’s working parlance, which has a core vocabulary of abbreviations, jargon, acronyms and neologisms based on Latin and classic Greek, as well as on the working parlance, drawing from literature, the arts, video games, popular films, the Internet, and other sources. It is meant to facilitate communication among physicians, and is the unofficial language of medicine; this work is in part an effort to rectify the paucity of information on Medspeak. Note: Because it is jargon based, Medspeak has the added benefit of making doctors appear smarter than we are. The term derives from Newspeak, a fictional language in George Orwell’s 1984.
Sample of Medspeak
Pt’s SOB + DOE dec
AF w/ SVS
CXR: LLL ASD /s Δ
S/B Cx → GPC c/w PC w/o GNR will d/c cef → PCN
Translation The patient’s shortness of breath and dyspnoea on exertion are diminished; the patient is afebrile with stable vital signs; a chest film shows left lower lobe air space disease without change from original film; the patient’s white blood cell count is 11,000/dL; because the sputum demonstrates gram-positive cocci–consistent with pneumococcus without gram-negative rods, cefuroxime therapy will be discontinued and switched to penicillin.
Reference PL Fine, The Wards, Little, Brown and Co, Boston, 1994.
Medical slang In this work, Medspeak is differentiated from medical slang. Whilst neither provides a complete and formally accepted vocabulary for medical communication, Medspeak is widely used and is generally accepted among physicians and advanced professionals. In contrast, medical slang is far less likely to pass the lawyer test*, and would be regarded in most medical circles as colloquial at best, and rude or highly offensive at worst.
*By which I mean, if a lawyer found a particular word or phrase written by the defendant in a chart, would the lawyer be able to get mileage off of it in a jury trial?