To Coin a Radiological Phrase

November 18, 2016
Eric Postal, MD

Quotes for radiologists to live by.

There’s something neat about citing someone else’s quotation.

I didn’t much care for it when I was in secondary school and forced to memorize various Shakespearean bits.  However, as time went on, I saw that quotes resonate better when they reference something you, or your audience, gives a darn about (my apologies to the late bard and his fans). Even if the speaker is the only one who gets his own reference…in which case a certain sense of smug impressed-by-self might be conveyed.

A variation involves taking a known line and slightly modifying it-a word or three-such that it suits not only your purpose, but also an oblique callback to the original reference. You wind up giving oomph to whatever you’re saying, and convey that you might just be well-read in subjects other than your profession, in the process.

It’s far from an original maneuver, so I tried looking up what it’s called when someone does this. For instance, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull radiologist.” Google kinda sorta came through for me on this one, albeit without resounding success. Look up “snowclone,” and you’ll see what I mean. Failing that, there’s always “paraphrase,” but that’s not exactly specific to what I’m talking about here.

Anyhoo, I’ve heard (and invented) a few for our line of work. You’ll surely recognize the source for most, if not all, of them; I’ll help out by bracketing the modified bit:

“For every complex [imaging study] there is [a diagnosis] that is clear, simple, and wrong.”

“You can lead a [patient] to [oral contrast], but you can’t make him drink.”

“Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we [are on call].”

“Faint heart never [made] fair [diagnosis].”

“[Consult] unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

“There are lies, damned lies, and [measurements reported in previous studies].”

“I don’t want to be [a partner in] any [radiology group] that will accept people like me as a member.”

“You can always count on [clinicians] to [order the right study]-after they’ve tried everything else.”

“You miss 100% of the [diagnoses] you don’t [commit to].”

“Slow and steady [clears the worklist].”

“Something is rotten in the state of [CMS].” (See, even I remember some of William’s stuff.)

“Sometimes the [diagnosis] is worse than the disease.”

“A [macro] in time saves nine [dictation errors].”

 “History is bunk.” (Yes, that’s actually the original quote. No need to change it, as it seems to nicely sum up the attitude of entirely too many referring clinicians who clearly believe we don’t need to know anything about their patients when reading their studies.)

Heard (or invented) any good ones? I’m sure there are some real gems out there.

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