Feet First

“It is much more important to know what sort of a patient has a disease than what sort of a disease a patient has.” - Sir William Osler

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    Wednesday, November 20, 2002
    Suddenly I'm Channeling Jane Austen

    This morning I was seeing a patient, who is pregnant, for an exam (for an unrelated issue). When I asked for her due date she replied that her "estimated date of confinement," a term she'd clearly picked up from her OB, was in May of next year. I suddenly realized that the term "EDC," which is an abbreviation doctors use all the time, stands for just that - "Estimated Date of Confinement." It's one of those acronyms I got into the habit of using without thinking about its meaning.

    The patient: "I thought 'estimated date of delivery' would make more sense, but that's the way they [the OB] said it."

    I responded: "Medicine has archaic terms that still crop up even when you don't expect them. 'Confinement' used to be the term they used for delivering a baby. We still say 'EDC' even though it doesn't really make sense anymore."

    We both laughed as I added: "It's like, 'She's pregnant. Confine her!'"



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