“Mistakes Were Made”
–A Politician Somewhere
I wish I knew who labeled the above phrase as the “past exonerative.” Absolutely brilliant! Most commonly, we associate that expression with the politician who is fearful of the mea culpa, i.e., “I made a mistake.” The poor bast**rd just cannot admit it.
I cite the above, because language matters. When hospital staff attends a non-clinical conference involving c-suite personnel, most know nuance from nonsense, and there are few doubts concerning wooly terms when an executive on the first floor utilizes any of the following (feel free to add to list below, as by no means is it exclusive):
3. Best Practice
6. Heavy Lifting
8. Mission Critical
9. Moving Parts
16. Vertical Integration (or ACO)
Additionally, what really goads me is the horrible conflagration between patient and consumer:
“Every time I hear the word consumer instead of patient, an angel dies.”
Let’s get this clear: a consumer expires, a patient passes away. Stop. Must I continue?
Okay, why the rant. While I have no literature to support my claim, more often than not, these expressions —so ubiquitous on airport terminal placards—are substitutes for non- explanations.
A. Need a Fix >>>>> B. “Robust” Solution >>>>> C. Problem Solved
The quickest way for me to adopt a cynical exterior and abandon my core competency, card-carrying ACGME bearing (the multidisciplinary team, play nice pose) is to hear these vague, silly terms. Providers can quickly finger the consultant in the room when the buzzword dictionary comes out of the briefcase.
This is an example of a cultural miscue for sure, and as a physician, I want to understand your world, as you want to understand mine. However, I really struggle with these idioms, as they are empty and vacuous.
The docs want to climb aboard–honest, but to convince us, the evidence-based horde that we are—meet us halfway and say what you mean.
Mistakes were made? Perhaps.
Bradley Flansbaum, DO, MPH, MHM works for Geisinger Health System in Danville, PA in both the divisions of hospital medicine and population health. He began working as a hospitalist in 1996, at the inception of the hospital medicine movement. He is a founding member of the Society of Hospital Medicine and served as a board member and officer. He speaks nationally in promoting hospital medicine and has presented at many statewide meetings and conferences. He is also actively involved in house staff education.
Currently, he serves on the SHM Public Policy Committee and has an interest in payment policy, healthcare market competition, health disparities, cost-effectiveness analysis, and pain and palliative care. He is SHM’s delegate for the AMA House of Delegates.
Dr. Flansbaum received his undergraduate degree from Union College in Schenectady, NY and attended medical school at the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine. He completed his residency and chief residency in Internal Medicine at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New York. He received his M.P.H. in Health Policy and Management at Columbia University.
He is a political junky, and loves to cook, stay fit, read non-fiction, listen to many genres of music, and is a resident of Danville, PA.