Just what the doctor ordered … or did he?

Just what the doctor ordered - or did he?Medical terms and instructions can be hard to understand, but some misinterpretations – despite their serious origins – can have everyone rolling around laughing.

Here are some examples of misunderstandings and other words-related goofs between doctors and patients, sent to me a few years ago from a friend in the USA. They are supposedly true and in my original version the doctors’ full names were given, but for the sake of discretion (and embarrassment!) I’ve abbreviated them to relative anonymity…

More than one cab

A man comes into the ER and yells, “My wife’s going to have her baby in the cab!” I grabbed my stuff,   rushed out to the cab, lifted the lady’s dress, and began to take off her underwear. Suddenly I noticed that there were several cabs, and I was in the wrong one.

–Dr. M MacD,San Antonio,TX

Just what the doctor ordered - or did he?Do you speak with a lisp?

At the beginning of my shift I placed a stethoscope on an elderly and slightly deaf female patient’s anterior chest wall. Big breaths,” I instructed.” “Yes, they used to be,” replied the patient remorsefully.

–Dr. R B, Seattle,WA

Goof from the heart

One day I had to be the bearer of bad news when I told a wife that her husband had died of a massive myocardial infarct. Not more than five minutes later, I heard her reporting to the rest of the family that he had died of a “massive internal f*rt.”

–Dr. S S, Manitoba, Canada

Patchy problems

During a patient’s two week follow-up appointment with his cardiologist, he informed me, his doctor, that he was having trouble with one of his medications. “Which one?” I asked. “The patch. The nurse told me to put on a new one every six hours and now I’m running out of places to put it!” I had him quickly undress and discovered what I hoped I wouldn’t see. Yes, the man had over fifty patches on his body! Now the instructions include removal of the old patch before applying a new one.

–Dr. R St. C, Norfolk, VA

Just what the doctor ordered - or did he?Eye, eye, doctor…

I was performing a complete physical, including the visual acuity test. I placed the patient twenty feet from the chart and began, “Cover your right eye with your hand.” He read the 20/20 line perfectly. “Now your left.” Again, a flawless read. “Now both,” I requested. There was silence. He couldn’t even read the large E on the top line. I turned and discovered that he had done exactly what I had asked; he was standing there with both his eyes covered. I was laughing too hard to finish the exam.

–Dr. M T, Worcester, MA

The other use for a bed

While acquainting myself with a new elderly patient, I asked, “How long have you been bed-ridden?” After a look of complete confusion she answered. “Why, not for about twenty years, when my husband was alive.”

–Dr. S S, Corvallis, OR

Kentucky Yuk

I was caring for a woman from Kentucky and asked, ”so, how’s your breakfast this morning?” “It’s very good, except for the Kentucky Jelly. I can’t seem to get used to the taste,” the patient replied. I then asked to see the jelly and the woman produced a foil packet labeled “KY Jelly.”

–Dr. L K, Detroit, MI

Whistle while you work

Just what the doctor ordered - or did he?A new, young MD doing his residency in obstetrics/gynecology was quite embarrassed performing female pelvic exams. To cover his embarrassment he had unconsciously formed a habit of whistling softly.  The middle aged lady upon whom he was performing this exam suddenly burst out laughing and further embarrassed him. He looked up from his work and sheepishly said, “I’m sorry. Was I tickling you?” She replied, “No doctor, but the song you were whistling was ‘I wish I was an Oscar Meyer Wiener.”

–won’t admit his name!

Make sure they understand what you  mean:

How to write better humor in writing“Super Speeches”…how to write and deliver them well

“How To Write About Yourself”…how to make the most of yourself, whatever you need to write

“Business Writing Made Easy”…everything you need to know about writing for business in English

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photo credit: GEO M I via photopin cc
photo credit: D’oh Boy (Mark Holloway) via photopin cc




  1. Great stories. They remind me of the time 29 years ago when I was rushed to hospital with a miscarriage. Everything went so quick that I didn’t bring anything with me. So I sent my husband back home with instructions to bring my toothbrush, nighties etc … and something to read ….
    He duly came back with a book called ‘Great Medical Disasters’!!!