Monday, February 13, 2006

The coma patient was listed in "very relaxed" condition

Dick Cheney's hunting accident saga has apparently occasioned the invention of new hospital terminology for describing a patient's condition:

The hospital listed Whittington's condition as "very stable."

No doubt the "very" is intended to be reassuring, but the effect is just the opposite. It sounds like they're trying a little too hard to be reassuring, and something may be wrong. Do we really need spin in this situation?

"Stable" itself is a word that obscures more than it reveals:

The term “stable” is not particularly helpful and its use is specifically discouraged by the American Hospital Association. The problem with “stable” is that it simply means that a person’s condition is not changing: One person could be terribly ill and another ready to go home, and both are “stable.”