doctor updating

What Your Doctor or Nurse Means When They Say Your Loved One is “Doing Well,” Sorted by Medical Specialty

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The devil is in the details and, for patients and family members, those details can be hard to squeeze out of those shifty doctors as they Houdini in and out of your room.  Often times, people are told that their loved one is “doing well, no new updates.”  While no news can be good news, how do these doctors define “well?”

doctor updatingIt turns out that it greatly depends on your physician’s specialty.  This list serves as a guide for patients and their families to better determine what “well” means and get a better sense of how low their doc’s bar has sunk.  Hopefully, this will improve patient-doctor communications as well as Press Ganey scores.


You didn’t die during surgery, congrats!


We already did the cath, what else is there to talk about?

Cardiothoracic Surgery

Just kidding, they’re not doing well at all.

Emergency Medicine

If we’re giving this kind of update that means that you’ve been down here too long and you need to either die, get admitted, or go home, like 20 minutes ago.

General Surgery

Waiting on you to eat and poop more so you can go home or so help us we’ll lap you again!


Solids in and solids out are proportionate and all orifices have been sufficiently scoped.

Internal Medicine

Yo, we just made your inpatient problems, outpatient problems (drops clipboard).

Infectious Disease

Your rip-roaring infection is actually susceptible to antibiotics which we recommended in our note.  We are going to go away now.


See cardiothoracic surgery above.


While pinching Grandma’s pectoralis muscle, she grabbed our hand, showing that there is more going on than just brainstem reflexes.  Happy Monday!


Aspirin levels are optimal.


No poo was flung, call buttons weren’t pressed every 15 minutes, and their IV is flowing without kinks or air bubbles.  Dilaudid dispensing was minimal.


The baby is out, your rectum and vagina remain two separate entities and you’re not exsanguinating from either.


Hey, we’re all dying of something but you know what?  You’re doing normal human things and will continue to do so for a while yet and that makes us happy.

Orthopedic Surgery

Your post-op films look @#$*ing awesome, bruh.


Following growth chart, immunizations up to date, car seat fits well, appetite is good, developing within range, all other checkboxes satisfactory…


You’re probably not going to kill yourself or anyone else.

Respiratory Therapists

Sputum production is decreasing after blowing out a huge loogie.


Things look good… Whoops I mean things were hard but they’re looking up… No no no just stay hydrated you’re fine.

  • Show Comments

  • Nicholas Lopez

    So very true

  • Leah Brown

    Very good point.

  • Tina Edwards

    Nailed it!

  • Catherine Carter

    Neurosurgery. I cried giggling. Nursing was pretty on point too

  • Kristi MacKenzie Isrow

    Oncology ICU… your loved one is cancer free! But the sepsis is keeping them On the vent, pressors, CRRT…

  • Danny Meiklejohn

    Who needs results. More fun guessing.

  • Hayley Carmichael

    Mercedes Ray

  • Jessica McCartney

    In all seriousness, I’ve learned to be a little more specific with my family updates. To me, in the ICU “stable” means s/he still has a pulse, BP wasn’t dangerously high or low, s/he required no emergent procedures/scans, and no new organs are failing. I’m making no predictions about long-term prognosis. To a family, stable can mean “s/he is getting better and will pull through this just fine.” Amazing the communication gap that can exist between us and our families!

  • Imogen Pryer

    Fave: Psych – You’re probably not going to kill yourself or anyone else.

  • Kara Couch

    Keith Kowalczyk, Amarin Sangkharat, Scott Wagner

  • Rummi Babbra
  • Terry N Teresa Rolan

    Aspirin levels! :) Ruthanna!

  • Becky Hollibaugh

    Hmm family medicine wasn’t included, but it made me laugh anyway.

  • Tessa Kankelfritz

    Sherry Sherry Randy Parker

  • David Andrew

    They are breathing unasissted, so they are stable.

  • Barbara Lawrence

    “Doing well” to a surgeon: “The incision looks great!”

  • Helen Mei Legg

    James Rachel Patiya

  • Adrian Miclea


  • Marehan Nakhnoukh

    Catherine Boutros Salima Hasham

  • Ryan Urbonas

    Said as a neurosurgeon married to a hepatobiliary surgeon

  • Ryan Urbonas

    Family: So how is s/he doing (overall)?
    Surgeon: S/he is doing fine (re: to surgery)
    Family: Is s/he going to make it (survive the disease)?
    Surgeon: Of course, s/he is going to do just fine (survive the surgery)

  • Miona Milutinov

    Sam Spalding psych and urology are my fav bahahaha and internal! so funny!!

  • Sam Spalding

    Miona hahaha oncology is so accurate! And so is peds and psych lol

  • Michelle Jackson

    Jamie Kirby Lynch oncology

  • Lauren Solhjoo Elder

    Family medicine: they made all your inpatient problems NEW outpatient problems by changing every single medication to something not covered under insurance.

  • Ginny Bowbrick

    Funny Rupert Spencer….I like the Nurse one the most!!

  • Farah Nasraty

    Allison Hunter get ready for that Ortho life, bruh

  • Velia Cardenas

    OR: yup, everything’s fine, call you back in two hours for another vague update.

  • Emily Carolyn Houston
  • Becky Brown

    MICU: You are still dying, but probably not today so congratulations

  • Robert L. Bettiker

    The infectious diseases statement will be made by me multiple times today.

  • Natasha Adams

    Katherine Raile Sonia Mohrlang

  • Patrick Grizzly Campbell

    “Orthopedic Surgery
    Your post op films look @#$*ing awesome bruh.”

    Guilty as charged… :-D

  • Camie Wright

    The Ob/Gyn one is spot on.

  • Bob Sammon

    My favorite:

    Internal Medicine

    Yo we just made your inpatient problems, outpatient problems (drops clipboard).

  • Lauren Kidd

    Nephrology: oh you’re 96 yo w seven comorbid conditions? Lets get started with dialysis.

  • Rupert Spencer

    Haha ortho. Ginny Bowbrick

  • Angie Stratton

    Yo we just made your inpatient problems, outpatient problems (drops clipboard).

  • Scott Anderson

    Radiology: looks normal, but cannot rule out clot, cancer, infection, death…

  • John Liu


    Wait… what? You’re still alive? That doesn’t happen often in this department. Please correlate with clinical findings.

  • Heather Harris

    Just when I think gomerblog can’t get any better…

  • Marie Mahler

    Hysterical with a morsel
    Of truth!

  • Jake McCoy

    just keep peein’, man

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