Sunday, January 29, 2012

Tales from Residency: Formal language

Attending: "You wrote in this consult that 'The patient does not endorse receiving physical therapy'."

Resident: "Yeah..."

Attending: "Why did you say it like that?"

Resident: "What do you mean?"

Attending: "Why did you use the word 'endorse'? Why don't you just write it like you'd say it? Is that how you'd say it?"

Resident: "Um..."

Attending: "Well, that's not the way I'd write it."

Two minutes later, after attending has left the room:

Resident: "Oh my GOD, what an arrogant prick! I'm not allowed to use formal language in a consult??"

Me: "What does he want you to write? 'The patient don't want no physical therapy'?"

Resident: "Next time I'll write the whole consult in ebonics."


  1. I have an attending who launches into a tirade every time someone uses the word "erythematous" instead of "red". I purposely use it in notes just to annoy him.

  2. “Endorse” means to publicly declare one’s approval of something. It has always stricken me as a word worthy of ridicule when used in medical presentations. There are plenty of good English words such as “The patient describes,” or “She reports,” or “He then mentioned,” etc.

    Don’t get me started on the gratuitous use of the word “secondary."

  3. The only time I ever see "endorse" is in psych, as in "the patient does not endorse auditory or visual disturbances". What does it even mean in this context? The patient does not want physio? Or hasn't received physio? Or does not publicly support physio in principle?

  4. I do use the word sometimes, when I specifically ask a patient if they have a symptom and they say yes, as opposed to when they volunteer that they have that symptom.

  5. I completely endorse PT. I recently had surgery to repair a torn tibial tendon (stepped on hotwheels dump truck while holding 2yr). The massage, flutow, and interex are waaayyy better than vicodin. The stretching, not so much. ;) But I know it's necessary.