Medical malapropism

For the last staff holiday party (yes, I will stop talking about that now), some colleagues and I put together a brief presentation about medical malapropisms. (Definition of “malapropism” and examples are here.) I see a lot of funny things in the course of my work,* but these verbal gems are in no way limited to the authors at my institution. We found a couple Web sites with collections of medical malapropisms, picked out the best ones, and Matt generously donated his time and talent to illustrate some of them for our presentation.


Evasive surgery was required.

The patient presented with a genital heart defect.

*Although this technically isn’t a malapropism, it is too good to not share. I recently saw a paper reviewing a sterilization procedure for women. If the method didn’t work properly, a patient could get pregnant, etc etc etc, so patients were instructed to seek medical care if they had pregnancy symptoms, including “any period of amenorrhea.” That one made me laugh all night long.

11 thoughts on “Medical malapropism

  1. i’ve been a R.N. for 25 yrs., and the funniest ones i’ve heard were from working for a couple of years on a telephone triage line…a woman called in and said she had a history of an ‘atomic pregnancy’, another woman was having a problem with her ‘vaginity’…

  2. Egads – those ARE good ones. I will not even imagine where we could go with the addition of the strange syntax of most of the ESL docs I work with on a daily basis.

  3. Very impressive drawings!

    My favorite one from my own experience also came from a patient. It was from an otherwise well-spoken man who wanted to let me know that he had a history of vaginal herpes.

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