Friday, January 12, 2007

Name that Name

One of the interesting parts of my job as a medical transcriptionist is hearing various patient names - really a microcosm of society. I’ve heard some doozies, that’s for sure. Some I just laugh at, and some I feel sorry for. Sometimes when I come across a first/last name combination for a female that is pretty bad, I wonder if she was unfortunately born under that name, or - heaven forbid - chose to marry it, leaving her forever known as...well, I won’t state a specific one here, but I assure you, anyone would do a double take on hearing this name combo for the first time.

I not only get to see creative patient names - I am exposed to a whole slew of medical eponyms, too. (An eponym is a person for whom something is thought to be named, which in my world includes surgical instruments, diseases, syndromes, techniques, etc.) Some of these consist of one last name, but when two or more geniuses get together, you can get one heck of a name. Charcot-Marie-Tooth, for instance. That’s a mouthful of a disease, isn’t it?

Some guy has a last name of Pfannenstiel, and the next thing you know, his name is lent to a surgical incision (one which I have myself, by the way). Most C-sections start off with a Pfannenstiel incision, which I have to remember how to spell for my certified medical transcription (CMT) exam. When I’m at work, I just use the code “PF” and out pops the word Pfannenstiel. For the exam, I won’t have such luxury, and all this information will have to be in my head. Why couldn’t the poor guy’s name have been Smith?

The moral of my story is this: If you are a creative medical type, and if you think in the future that you will invent some great medical instrument or discover a new disease or technique, please take a moment to pause and think of all the medical students and transcriptionists all over the world who will have to spell (and discern audibly) your name. If appropriate, ask forgiveness. Thank you. You may now return to your laboratories.

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