applauding doctors

Ortho Writes Perfect SOAP Note, First No-Worder This Year

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LOS ANGELES, CA – Cliff Kershaw of UCLA Medical Center etched his way into the record books early this morning as he wrote the fiscal year’s first perfect note. The southpaw orthopedic surgeon not only defeated his patient’s left femoral neck fracture with a successful operation free of complications, but also completed his medical progress note without the use of words, including the total omission of nouns and verbs.

applauding doctors
“An amazing feat!”

“It’s truly surreal,” Kershaw shouted, celebrating with his teammates. “I just wanted to write a quick note, move on with my workday.  To go out there, in front of all my fans, and write a note like that, it’s a dream come true.”

Several other surgeons in medical history have written no-worders, but Kershaw’s perfect SOAP note is the first one this year. It is also Kershaw’s first career perfect note.  He has consistently displayed the potential for writing a wordless note, in fact completing three short one-worders earlier this year: “Stable” in May, “OK” in June, and “Worse” in July.

The last perfect no-word note was written by Jacob Zimmermann at Georgetown’s University Hospital last season, when he simply wrote “D/C” on a patient’s chart. Zimmermann’s masterpiece remains the most concise and efficient note in medical and surgical documentation history, totaling two letters, a slash, and zero words.

Zimmermann scrubbed out of the OR to call Kershaw and congratulate him on the feat.

“It’s an exclusive club you’re in,” Zimmermann told Kershaw. “Congratulations and definitely enjoy it while you can!”

Kershaw simply dominated the progress note from the get-go despite suboptimal conditions of poor lighting and a splotchy pen. He left pronouns, nouns, verbs, and prepositions in the dust, and displayed his complete mastery of abbreviations, acronyms, the no symbol (Ø), shorthand, commas, slashes, and numbers, all the while walking the fine line between legibility and illegibility.  It was a true masterpiece and one that can be appreciated whether or not you’re a fan of Kershaw.

“When I retire, I’ll look back, reread my note, and relive this day,” Kershaw commented, signing autographs, white coats, and babies.  “It’s pretty unbelievable.”

“Wow, I’m amazed and really jealous,” said Tom Lincecum with infectious diseases at UCLA Medical Center. “My average ID progress note contains 5,620 words.  Sometimes I have to divide my note into chapters.”

Kershaw’s flawless note reads as follows:

LLE dsg C/D/I, DP 2+
34 yo M s/p L THA POD1
DVT ppx

“The crazy part is that I think I can do better, way better,” joked Kershaw, soaked in champagne. “I can probably shave the note by another ninety percent.  Gives me something to shoot for going forward, you know?”

The wordless SOAP note has been retrieved for safekeeping and will likely be enshrined in the Surgery Hall of Fame (SHOF).

  • Show Comments

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    Best note I ever wrote: As above, see below.

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    He still had a scribe write it for him

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    Jeff Stambough

    “: Ortho Writes Perfect SOAP Note, First … – #StriveForGreatness

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    Saad Mohammad

    David Potter sorry had to make you read this as well

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    Mark Roberts

    impressive for sure but, any surg. resident at 4am does better on the average day

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    Angie Montecino-Barco

    Haha Lauren Kiscaden

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    Kathryn Sowinski

    Drew Ratner :)

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    Joseph Kuhn

    I am worried about medical doctors because this “wordless note” sounds like gibberish to me.

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    Melissa Busovsky-Mcneal

    This makes me happy on so many levels!

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    Ruben Molière


    Melissa Busovsky-Mcneal check this out. For a good laugh :)

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    Victoria Beveridge

    Brilliant. Love it

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    Michael Flamoe

    Kimberly C Larson Kimberley Marin Mark Arrant

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    Donna Otwell White

    There are two words in your note…

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    Justin Chipman


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    Miles Callahan

    NAD. – Not ActuallyDone

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    Miles Callahan

    Yeah right, ok, but WHAT does the X-RAY Look like?

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    Maranatha Anderson

    Michael Flamoe!

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    Anthony Daniels

    Best note I ever saw:
    S: better
    O: better
    A: better
    P: continue

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    Meredith Broderick

    Doesn’t even come close to some of the masterpieces I’ve seen from my N/S colleagues.

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    Derek Seib


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    Andrew Tan

    I have always dreamed of doing this. A note entirely consisting of abbreviations and acronyms. Numbers would be ok also.

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    Onur Kutlu

    This note is too detailed to be written by an orthopod.

    The note should be


    S/p rt fem orif day 2 c/d/i

    Wbat rtle

    Ok to d/c w/ HHS

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    Patrick Murray

    Stopped reading halfway through. Too long.

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    Shazia Choudry

    Something to shoot for Jeff Lutton!

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    Andy Talbott

    Best daily note is just “Hebrews 13:8”. h/t Dr. George Aronoff

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    My favorite surgery progress note:

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    Becky Waynee Bratten

    The sad thing is that I could read it, and every flippin’ year I tell the new residents NOT to document like this….worst abreviation I ever had to deal with: whaoml

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    Katrina Gabelko

    WNL = We Never Looked

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    Katrina Gabelko

    When I was in nursing school we used to practice writing no-word chart notes. Now, twenty years later we are on computer templates and no one bothers to read our ER notes… Sigh…

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    John Kelly

    I’m with Audrey! This was clearly written by an ortho resident! It was written clearly enough to be translated to print for the article. That alone gives it away. How am I to believe it was an attending writing legibly?

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    Patricia Kidd

    :) ❤️

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    Shannon Bass

    Probably my fav

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    XY Zee


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    Martha Bauder

    He could be an ER doc!

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    Vikash Mishra

    I saw one in med school from pediatric Ortho that said “patient breathing”

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    Katie Marsh


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    Ana María Concepción Castro

    My notes rarely can be divided into chapters. Just my consults. For the record. :))
    Btw, as bad as I am with acronyms, I could read that note. That in itself is a little disturbing.

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    J. Andrew Younghein

    Obvi not ortho Postop note. The only thing needed AVSS, SILT DP/SP/T/S/S, +EHL FHL TA GSC PRL

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    Rebecca Sentman

    Ana María Concepción Castro read the whole thing.

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    Rebecca Sentman


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    Mersiha Hadziahmetovic

    A close second is LGFD (Looks good from door) or CWF (can wiggle fingers)

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    The Happy Hospitalist Blog
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    Sara Hughes

    stable adv: CT (continue treatment) :P

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    Steve Gerke

    Wow, they’ve come a long way from, “it broken, me fix”…

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    Ryan Caldwell

    Adam Silbiger

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    Audrey Maminta

    It’s clear he didn’t write it! What ortho ever includes heart, lung, abdomen exam???

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    Jessica White


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    Joanie Sapienza


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    Stephen Rockower

    a picture of a foot, indicating our footprints or “we were here”

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    Stephen Rockower

    When I was an Ortho resident rounding on Trauma patients in which we were doing nothing except waiting, we would leave a drawing of a foot, signifying our “foot prints”. We were there and acknowledging that all was copasthetic.

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