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Haven’t Grown Gills Yet

Kamela works as a nurse in Anchorage, Alaska. When she asked a patient how how he was doing post-surgery, the man responded with Well, I haven’t grown gills yet. It’s a jocular way of acknowledging that although he hadn’t recovered...

Spleeny

Jan in Ketchikan, Alaska, says when she worked in a hospital in Maine, co-workers described a patient with a low pain threshold or otherwise reluctant to move about as spleeny. New Englanders in particular use the term spleeny to mean fussy...

Hospital Lingo

Next time you’re at a hospital, listen for staffer’s code slang like suitcase sign, meaning “the patient is determined to check himself in no matter what,” or a gown sign, meaning they suspect a patient of getting ready to...

Illegal Alien

A physician wants to know: Is it politically correct to use the phrase illegal alien? The Society of Professional Journalists have decided, collectively, to use illegal immigrant but even words like illegal or undocumented can often be inaccurate...

Lay vs. Laid

A medical transcriptionist who majored in English reports that her co-workers are squabbling over a sentence: “The patient was brought to the operating room, and laid supine on the operating-room table.” This is part of a complete...