I love when the hubby has breaks in his school year because then he writes great guest posts!

Ok, I actually love his breaks for other reasons, too, but I enjoy his writing and I hope you do too!

Here is he, explaining some interesting phrases from doctors he’s been around throughout medical school…


Physicians love having their own sayings.

I have found that the staff doctors I have worked with during medical school love having a trademark phrase. So I will now pass some of them along to you. Hopefully you will find them interesting.

“Pus, piss, and hostility all must come out.”

Yes, I have heard several doctors say this. Let me better explain. Pus is a collection of  white blood cells and usually some dead tissue or bacteria. As much as I like to make fun of surgeons, the best way to get rid of pus is by surgery, whether it be as simple as opening a skin abscess or as complex as a big surgery to debride a deep-seated infection. Urine must also come out. Not being able to urinate is a very bad thing. Whether it turns into a urinary tract infection, a kidney stone, or infection of the kidney itself – when the kidney shuts down, all the other organs get unhappy.

However, the last part of the phrase is interesting to me. Maybe it is a larger commentary on the human existence. If you think about it, hostility really does always come out. Whether through a raised voice, a punching bag, exercising, or even quietly stewing, it really always does come out.

“Blood goes ‘round and ‘round, air goes in and out, and pee is good.”

This was said to our med school class during first year physiology. I think they were trying to illustrate basic physiologic principles of circulation, respiration, and elimination. But the larger issue is that these basic functions need to always continue, because if they don’t – there are problems. The failure of circulation is the underlying issue of a stroke, a heart attack, blood clots, heart failure, peripheral vascular disease, sepsis (overwhelming infection), and many more. The failure of normal respiration is the problem in COPD, asthma, asphyxiation, many drug overdoses, and more. As I already mentioned, failure of urination leads to infection, kidney failure, and altered mental status. So even in that simple statement there is much truth.

Another favorite phrase you hear in medical school is this…

“If you hear hoofbeats in Nebraska, it is most likely a horse and not a zebra.”

Doctors say this because if someone presents in Nebraska with a fever, it is most likely something like influenza, bronchitis, or a strep throat and likely not malaria, tuberculosis, or familial Mediterranean fever.  It’s not that we don’t think about those things, but as another saying says, “common things are common.”


Aren’t those great?! What other interesting medical phrases have you heard from doctors or nurses?