Dear Straight Dope: I was just wondering, why do doctors say “stat” when they want something done quickly? Is it an abbreviation, an acronym, or just one of those many made up words that doctors use to feel smarter than the rest of us? Please enlighten me! Matt MacKinnon
The term “stat” is an abbreviation for the Latin word statim, meaning “immediately.” Doctors probably use this because it sounds a little cooler than “pronto.” The origin of the practice is obscure, at least to us. I mean, doctors couldn’t say “quick” or “now” or something like that? However, we have it on good authority that this is not simply an invention of the scriptwriters for “ER,” and that doctors actually do say it.SDSTAFF Hawk, who spends a lot of time hanging around in hospitals, says he’s noticed that younger doctors tend to dispense with tradition and just say “now,” a trend toward clarity of medical expression that we’re sure won’t last long.
Send questions to Cecil via firstname.lastname@example.org.
STAFF REPORTS ARE WRITTEN BY THE STRAIGHT DOPE SCIENCE ADVISORY BOARD, CECIL'S ONLINE AUXILIARY. THOUGH THE SDSAB DOES ITS BEST, THESE COLUMNS ARE EDITED BY ED ZOTTI, NOT CECIL, SO ACCURACYWISE YOU'D BETTER KEEP YOUR FINGERS CROSSED.