Karen Berger gives us an insight into what it’s like for an American to deal with the UK medical system (well the language anyway!)

I’ve worked with many British writers over the years, and once again I’m reminded that even though we speak the same language, we Americans really are different from those high-brow sounding British — especially when it comes to medical terminology. So, for all of you detail freaks out there like me, this is what I’ve learned so far on the topic from that fab Londoner and science wiz herself, Sara Kenney.

In the UK, seeing a doctor at their “surgery” is another term for doctor’s office. But, surgery also means going under the knife. Who can keep track?

Anaesthesiologists are called Anaesthetists, okay, I guess… but if you’re already in la-la land, who cares?

In the UK, one is rushed to Casualty or A and E, Accidents and Emergency, not the plain ol’ Emergency Room. In the US, A and E is the Arts and Entertainment channel, home to many edgy reality TV shows. Guess that could be considered a casualty, too?

In the UK, doctors are also called medics. Here in the US, medics heroically deliver medical supplies dashing through war zones to awaiting army doctors.

In the UK, doctors are not called MDs, or even physicians—the horror!

And get this, surgeons aren’t called doctors, but Mr, Mrs, Ms, or Miss — what’s with that?
(I hear it goes back to barbers being the first surgeons. But still, get with the times!)

Don’t mean to be so cranky about this, but both of my brothers are doctors, so I can’t help it.  But then again, everything does sound better with a British accent, so I have gotten used to it…  sort of!

Just don’t get me started on government health care vs private.  My brothers will kill me.


Karen Berger

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