Medical Students Chart the Darndest Things

Posted by Trevor Rosenlof on Jun 11, 2015 2:57:10 PM
Medical students in residencyWhen I started my rotations in third year, it was on a regular basis that I said or wrote something that was… well… embarrassing.  Perhaps it was simply inaccurate.  Or maybe it wasn’t the correct way to word whatever it was I was trying to communicate.  My initial reaction was to try and hide my inadequacies by not speaking up.  I didn’t want to expose myself.  But I quickly learned that the vast majority of doctors and residents I worked with didn’t care if I made a mistake as long as I tried and was willing to learn.  What would make them upset was a lack of effort on my part.  In fact, physicians liked me more and trusted me more if I was willing to be vocal with my thoughts and ideas, no matter how off they were.  Doing so let them know where I was at in terms of my understanding.  It also gave them a chance to teach me, which is the whole purpose of medical school.

I also learned that I wasn’t alone in making myself look like a fool.  My classmates were in the same boat as me and made mistakes as well.  And our mistakes were often quite funny.  It’s healthy to laugh at ourselves, individually and collectively.  And with that in mind, here is a list of comical things that have been written in patient charts over the years.

  • "On the second day, the knee was better, and on the third day it disappeared!"

  • "Patient has chest pain if she lies on her left side for over a year."

  • "She is numbed from her toes down."

  • "Cough with flame"

  • "Rectal examination revealed a normal sized thyroid."

  • "Skin: somewhat pale but present."

  • "The skin was moist and dry."

  • "Occasional, constant, infrequent headaches."

  • "Patient was alert and unresponsive."

  • "The patient has no previous history of suicides."

  • "The patient has been depressed since she began seeing me in 1993."

  • "She stated that she had been constipated for most of her life, until she got separated."

  • "Patient has two teenage children, but no other abnormalities."

  • "The patient was to have a bowel resection. However, he took a job as a stockbroker instead."

  • "Acute pain related to witchcraft."

  • "Discharge status: Alive but without permission."

  • "The patient refused autopsy."

  • "Patient was seen in consultation by Dr. ___, who felt we should sit on the abdomen and I agree."

  • "Large brown stool ambulating in the hall."

  • "I saw your patient today, who is still under our car for physical therapy."

  • "Patient had waffles for breakfast and anorexia for lunch."

  • "Patient's medical history has been remarkably insignificant with only a 40 pound weight gain in the past three days."

  • "Patient has left white blood cells at another hospital."

  • "Healthy appearing decrepit 69 year old male, mentally alert but forgetful."

  • "The patient is tearful and crying constantly. She also appears to be depressed."
Have any of your own comical chart banter to share? Leave it in the comments below! 

Topics: For Fun, Residency

Welcome to Firecracker

Firecracker is an adaptive learning platform that uses amazing content coupled with spaced repetition to help medical students crush their exams. We offer programs for both individual students, and entire medical schools. If you'd like to learn more contact us at

Subscribe to Email Updates

Recent Posts