The Dorsal View

26 Nov 2018 | 0 Comment(s)

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‘Doctoring’ the meaning of common phrases

Try as one may not to venture into offering political opinion, particularly on situations in other jurisdictions, sometimes it’s hard to ignore the events that surround US President Donald Trump.

No sooner had the ink dried on the US mid-term ballot papers than another storm in a teacup began to brew. This time, it related to CNN reporter Jim Acosta. In case you missed it, Acosta had his White House press credentials revoked after an ‘altercation’ with a White House intern during a press conference. In short, Acosta refused to surrender the microphone after he had asked his allocation of questions and video footage shows him pushing down the arm of the intern as she tried to retrieve the mic.

Subsequently, the proverbial hit the fan, with Acosta denying that he — all apologies — accosted the intern and as the brief segment of video went viral, there were accusations that the clip was ‘doctored’ so as to be sped-up, making the incident seem more serious than it was (turns out the video, which was re-tweeted by the White House, was not tampered with, but was simply zoomed-in).

Anyway, it got me thinking — what bright spark decided to apply the term ‘doctored’ to describe something that has been deliberately altered in an effort to mislead somebody?

Checking the exact definition of that word, according to the Collins English Dictionary, you get this: “Doctoring [the present participle of ‘doctor’]: The act of making different in order to deceive, tamper with, falsify, or adulterate. Example: ‘Don’t tell me he was caught doctoring his expenses or stealing the petty cash’.”

If you will excuse these pointless musings, how did the medical profession get that kind of negative association? Surely, if something has been made different “in order to deceive, tamper with, falsify, or adulterate”, it should be described as ‘politicked’. To me, if a video clip has been ‘doctored’, it has either been cured or its symptoms have been brought under control. Or it has moved to Canada or Australia for more money and better working conditions.


Breaking up is hard to do

Staying with politics, but this time closer to home, Brexit now seems to have descended into the realm of farce, as deadline after deadline is pushed back and British PM Theresa May increasingly appears to be on borrowed time. Even the DUP are turning against her. Welcome to the world of politics in Northern Ireland, Theresa. Bet you wish you weren’t here.

The Independent in the UK reported recently that the number of applicants to UK medical schools from people in the EU has fallen to its lowest level in almost 10 years. This has been attributed to uncertainty over Brexit and is an unseen consequence of the UK’s vote to leave the EU, according to that newspaper.

Statistics from the UK’s universities and colleges admissions body reveal that the number of applicants from EU countries has fallen to 1,660, a drop of 8 per cent. But the NHS shouldn’t panic — the main deadline for applications does not pass until 15 January 2019.

A more practical worry for Ireland is that Brexit may impact cross-border co-operation in terms of patient care. For example, top-quality cardiac interventionalists sometimes come to work in the North from a range of countries in the EU for months at a time, providing benefits both for those doctors and for the centres in which they work. It would be a real shame if it became prohibitively difficult to establish such exchanges of expertise because of Brexit.

I personally don’t envisage a scenario where there will be a line of ambulances at the border, full of patients waiting for primary PCI and soldiers with machine guns frisking the drivers. But as many patients will tell you — and this applies to almost any situation — it’s not dealing with bad news that causes the most anxiety, but rather, it’s prolonged uncertainty that causes the most stress.

So we still await the devilish details of a final agreement on the terms of Brexit. Let’s just hope the agreement isn’t ‘doctored’.


Chewing the fat

A quick conversational exchange from a consultation to round-off this issue’s offering. As always, your contributions are most welcome at the email address below. 

A doctor puts a rather rotund patient through the usual battery of tests in a general examination and asks him, “does obesity run in your family?”

The patient replies: “The problem is, nobody runs in my family.”

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