Wednesday, October 20, 2004


Walking through the ICU today, I noticed that 2 of the 5 patients on the Transplant service had the "O" sign, 1 had the "Q" sign, and that the other 2 appeared relatively well.

The "O" sign: Patient lies in bed with mouth gaping open. Usually the patient is unconscious (or at the most minimally responsive), quite ill, and not doing so well. Seeing your patient's health decline to this state is not good. But with proper medical care, they may recover.

The "Q" sign": The patient has the all the features of the "O" sign, except that the tongue hangs out the mouth. This indicates continued deterioration from the "O" sign and demonstrates a dismal chance for full recovery.

None of these signs have scientific documentation declaring their prognostic abilities, but their accuracy in predicting patient outcomes is frighteningly on target.