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Top 10 words that should be in the EMS dictionary (but aren't)

EMS1.com News

September 17, 2010


The Ambulance Driver's Perspective
by Kelly Grayson

Top 10 words that should be in the EMS dictionary (but aren't)

"Anyone who has ever watched television knows that without Ambuslaps, the EMTs would never know when it's time to take the patient to the hospital."

By Kelly Grayson

"Why is it that the cops and firefighters feel the need to beat on the side of the rig after they close the rear doors?" Rookie Partner asked me the other night. "Do they not see that I'm sitting right there in the driver's seat, watching them in the side mirror? Heck, half the time they do it, I'm still in the back with you!"

"They're called Ambuslaps," I informed him. "Anyone who has ever watched television knows that without Ambuslaps, the EMTs would never know when it's time to take the patient to the hospital."

By the blank look on his face, I could tell he had no idea what I was referring to, so with a brief Google search, I was able to introduce my partner to those wonderful words that should be in Taber's Medical Dictionary, but aren't: EMS Sniglets.

While I was helping my partner broaden his horizons, one thing that struck me was that a great many commonly used EMS Sniglets don't appear on any of the existing lists. So on that note, I give you the top ten words that should be in the EMS dictionary, but aren't:

Incarceritis: A constellation of medical complaints brought upon by the imminent threat of legal confinement. Symptoms include, but are not limited to: dyspnea, chest pain, syncope, seizures, incontinence, and coma. See also stainless steel allergy and post-Miranda syncope.

Malignorance: Combination of the words "malignant" and "ignorance," when ordinary, every day "stupid" doesn't even begin to describe the patient's behavior.

Tachylawdia: Condition in which the patient or family member repeats "Lawdy!" more than 100 times per minute. The condition often presents with PJCs (Premature Jesus Complexes) and, depending upon the patient's religious fervor, intermittent "Amens." Often considered a hallmark sign of status dramaticus.

Example: "The patient exhibited tachylawdia with bigeminal PJCs and intermittent Amens."

Polybabydaddia: Condition affecting females under age 25, who have three or more children by different fathers.

Status dramaticus: Disorder in which the patient exhibits seizure-like activity characterized by the lack of urinary incontinence, presence of coordinated muscle movements, and the absence of an appreciable postictal state.

Patients suffering from status dramaticus usually skip the tonic phase altogether. The condition is often exacerbated by an audience of medical professionals or concerned family members. Usually, the seizure-like activity is broken by the insertion of a nasopharyngeal airway or the phrase, "Hold still, big stick..."

Sub acute status dramaticus may often mimic tachlawdia, and many experts believe they are the same disorder.

Chronic hickory deficiency: Often mistakenly diagnosed as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or more rarely, Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Easily cured by topical application of hickory to the patient's gluteus maximus, PRN. See also chronic leatheremia.

ECU admit: Admit to the Eternal Care Unit; recently deceased patient.

Wallet biopsy: The act of going through an unconscious patient's wallet, looking for identification, Medic Alert information, or insurance cards.

Low marble count: Manifestations of psychosis in the psychiatric patient with therapeutic psychoactive medication levels. See also chronic microdeckia (not playing with a full deck).

Googlechondria: Condition in which patients look up their symptoms on Google before seeking medical assistance.

Example: "I've been having fever, body aches and this weird rash for about a month. I looked it up on Google, and I'm pretty sure I have ebola."

Got any new EMS Sniglets of your own? Let's see 'em in the comments! 

About the author


Kelly Grayson, NREMT-P, CCEMT-P, is a critical care paramedic in Louisiana. He has spent the past 18 years as a field paramedic, critical care transport paramedic, field supervisor and educator. He is a former president of the Louisiana EMS Instructor Society and board member of the LA Association of Nationally Registered EMTs.

He is a frequent EMS conference speaker and contributor to various EMS training texts, and is the author of the popular blog A Day In the Life of an Ambulance Driver. The paperback version of Kelly's book is available at booksellers nationwide. You can follow him on Twitter (@AmboDriver) or Facebook (www.facebook.com/theambulancedriverfiles), or email him at kelly.grayson@ems1.com.

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