A translation guide for physician-speak


Image: Corbis Photography | Veer

Are you a new nurse? Do you find yourself bewildered by doctor-speak? Don’t panic! Auntie Agatha has your translation guide right here.

Physician: “This will feel like a pinch.”

Translation: “This will feel like I’m shooting you with a small-caliber handgun in slow motion.”

Physician: “The patient presents with an interesting medical history…”

Translation: ”Way too much to go into here; check out the previous doctor’s dictation.”

Physician: “….With certain factitious elements.”

Translation: “Munchausen.”

Physician: “The patient is an extremely pleasant middle-aged man.”

Translation: ”The patient talks a lot.”

Physician: “The patient has a good fund of general knowledge”

Translation: ”She reads more than I do.”

Physician: “Every four hours around the clock.”

Translation: ”This person won’t take pain medicine and needs to be encouraged to do so.”

Physician: “Emphasize proper follow-up care.”

Translation: ”This person came to see me four years ago and I haven’t seen her since.”

Physician: “There will be moderate discomfort.”

Translation: ”This procedure will hurt like blazes.”

Physician: “Patient states…”

Translation: ”I can’t possibly do justice to what he just said.”

Physician: “Walk TID with Nursing.”

Translation: ”Good luck getting her out of bed.”

Physician: “Nursing to provide education on…”

Translation: ”Good God, I’m pressed for time.”

Physician: “Proper diet and exercise regimen was encouraged.”

Translation: ”Please, Nursing, go over the ADA diet again. Thanks.”

Physician: “The patient prevents with sociopathic elephants and compliance of derriere spoonerisms.”

Translation: ”This was the transcriptionist’s first day on the job.”

This post originally appeared in The Head Nurse blog.

Agatha Lellis
Agatha Lellis is a nurse whose coffee is brought to her every morning by a chipmunk. Bluebirds help her to dress, and small woodland creatures sing her to sleep each night. She writes a monthly advice column, "Ask Aunt Agatha," here on Scrubs; you can send her questions to be answered at

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