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A Lexicon for the Workplace

We have many Research Associate volunteers who staff the SF General Emergency Department collecting research data. They are often ask “what did you mean when you said…” or “what does that mean on the patient census whiteboard”. When I answer their questions, they often chuckle. This then made me realize that we routinely use terms and phrases that aren’t part of the usual medical vocabulary and are unique to the SF General ED.

  • HACito: For acutely agitated patients (often under the influence of one or more intoxicants), we commonly use Haldol, Ativan, and Cogentin in a single syringe to inject intramuscularly. This is commonly referred to as HAC. For smaller patients or those who just need only slight chemical restraint, we use a smaller dose of HAC, or a “mini-HAC” or “HACito” .
  • Syncopize: Many medical nouns are converted into new verbs when we speak to each other. “Syncopize” describes one who has had an episode of syncope. “Hematemesize” describes one who has vomited blood.
  • MTF: Many of our patients present because they are under the influence of alcohol, heroin, methadone, cocaine, amphetamines, or a combination of them all. After several hours, these patients wake up and are discharged assuming nothing else is wrong with them. For these patients, we write “MTF” on the whiteboard next to their name, meaning that we are waiting for them to “metabolize to freedom”.
  • The eagle has landed: Some mornings, often a nurse or institutional police officer buys several dozen donuts for the ED staff. Instead of sending out an overhead annoucement that donuts are in the break room, the code words are “the eagle has landed”.
  • Trauma Alpha: All of our severely-injured trauma patients fall under code names, chronologically arranged in alphabetical order. These pre-printed medical charts have pre-registered medical record numbers to allow us to immediately start ordering labs and other diagnostic tests. There’s Trauma Alpha, Trauma Beta, Trauma Charlie, etc. You know it was a bad trauma day when the ED cycles the entire alphabet in a 12-hour shift.
  • Med Pack Whale: Similarly for our acutely ill non-trauma patients who need tests started immediately, we have pre-registered, pre-printed medical chart packets for them. These are also arranged in alphabetical order, except we use animal names. I always feel bad that we have a Medical Packet Whale, especially if the patient happens to be a little overweight. Some of my favorite are Med Pack Giraffe and Med Pack Yak, FYI, I have really bad luck with Med Pack Kangaroo. For me, it is an independent predictor for intubation. My intubation rate is about 80% on them!
  • Platinum CT scan: Are you getting pan-scans for more and more of your trauma patients, despite the recent irradiation risk literature? I’ve started calling the head, cervical spine, chest, and abdomen/pelvis CT set as the Platinum scan. If we don’t need the chest CT, I call it the Gold scan.
  • IP: The Institutional Police are a omnipresent staple in our ED. Stationed only the ED, they are extremely protective of our ED staff whenever patients become unruly, potentially dangerous to the staff, or refuse to be discharged from the ED. Until recently, we had an IP officer named Frank who was amazingly adept at convincing patients to calm down and be respectful. I suppose having a gun on your belt helps at being convincing. You would often hear an overhead page calling for “Uncle Frank”. I describe our IP officers as “motivational speakers”.

Question: What unique phrases/terms do you have at your ED?


By |2019-09-10T14:06:45-07:00Jul 31, 2009|Life|

Three phases of educational technology in the classroom

I recently encountered a thought-provoking video about how technology is transforming education in the classroom setting. We are slowly experiencing a culture shift in how learners are learning. It follows that this should affect how teachers should be teaching. Briefly, the author lays out the progression of educational technology in 3 phases.


By |2016-10-26T17:05:43-07:00Jul 24, 2009|Medical Education, Social Media & Tech|

Faculty spotlight: Dr. John Brown

Dr. John Brown is the well-known (infamous?) Medical Director of the San Francisco EMS Agency — not a small task or for the weak of heart. He also practices at SF General Hospital and manages to keep level-headed in the midst of chaos. I’m constantly impressed by his clinical and political saaviness. You would never know how big of name he is when you meet him. Totally humble and understated, especially given all that he’s done for the city and our specialty.


By |2019-09-10T14:06:59-07:00Jul 7, 2009|Life|

Cool web tip: Getting a "reader" – bringing web content to you

Do you feel like you are routinely checking various websites to follow up on recent journal publications, reading blogs, catching up on the news? What’s new in Annals of EM or Academic EM? What’s on today’s CNN or EducationPR blogs?

I’m a firm believer that technology should make things streamlined and easier, rather than creating more steps and hassles. I recently discovered online RSS readers on the web. If you don’t have one, you should get one.


By |2016-11-11T19:01:59-08:00Jul 2, 2009|Social Media & Tech|

Faculty spotlight: Dr. Ghazala Sharieff

It’s not every day that you get to meet and hang out with a fun, funny, humble, spirited, and super-smart person. I first got to know Dr. Ghazala Sharieff on the lecture circuit. She’s one of the major go-to speakers for anything related to pediatric EM. When I’m stuck in a dilemma about a pediatric patient, I think – WWGD? What would Ghazala do?


By |2019-09-10T14:07:42-07:00Jun 30, 2009|Life|

Faculty spotlight: Dr. Renee Hsia

There are so many interesting and inspiring EM faculty and none more so than in our own department at San Francisco General Hospital. Dr. Renee Hsia is a rising superstar in our department who has received numerous fancy awards and grants including the prestigious Robert Wood Johnson Faculty Scholar award. She makes me feel small, insignificant, and uncultured. For instance, I thought Eritrea was a rash. Anyway, read below to see what I mean. Good thing I can at least beat her in foosball.


By |2019-09-10T14:07:49-07:00Jun 23, 2009|Life|
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