A Patient by Any Other Name

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What's in a name? Willie Shakespeare said, "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet." Out here where I live we say, "You can call a skunk whatever you want, but you still can't bring it in the house."

Apparently, a name is not just a name to a lot of folks, if recent discussions on the Internet are any indication. "Patient," "amputee," "customer," "client," and a few others have all been tossed around as ways to describe the people to whom we apply our skills. My Funk & Wagnall's dictionary from 1982 defines these terms as follows:

Patient: An individual awaiting or under medical care and treatment. Some have suggested that "patient" means "passive recipient of care," so let's define "passive" too. Passive: Lacking in energy or will (describes everyone around here in the summer); tending not to take an active or dominant part and receiving or enduring without resistance. "Patient" describes most of the people for whom we provide care. However, very few I have met come within a west Texas mile of "passive."

Customer: One that purchases a commodity or service. Although they benefit from our "commodities and services," I think the knockout punch here is "purchase."

Consumer: One that consumes; one that utilizes economic goods. The resale value of most sockets has really fallen off, since they can't be used for firewood anymore, so I don't think term "economic goods" fits either.

Guest: 1. a) a person entertained in one's house; b) a person to whom hospitality is extended; c) a person who pays for the services of an establishment (as a hotel or restaurant); 2. an organism (as an insect) sharing the dwelling of another. Some devices take a good bit of time to fit, and some folks can be a "pest," but we hope none of them will "share our dwelling" long enough to be declared a dependent.

Okay, that leaves us with one alternative:

Client: A person who engages the professional advice or services of another, as in "a lawyer's clients." This seems to sum up the relationship pretty well. But, if we are going to use legal terminology, we need to be proper. Therefore, we will follow the example of the ten-page lease on my new pickup truck. I am known as the "lessee," since I received the lease of the vehicle. The bank is known as the "lessor" because it gave me the lease (my wise-cracking lawyer told me it should describe me as the "shaftee").

So, henceforth prosthetic recipients will be known as "the prosthetee," and the individual delivering the device will become the "prosthetor." It follows then that the orthotist becomes the "orthotor," and the recipient of said device becomes the "orthotee." In some areas of the south, "bracer" and "bracee" may be substituted.

Okay, so all of you orthotors and prosthetors stop reading my brain droppings and get busy fitting those orthotees and prosthetees. Don't even think about applying for a copyright on these terms-I've already applied. Unfortunately, my application was rejected and returned to me, stamped STOOPID in three-inch red letters. I guess that's how I should have signed the lease on my new pickup, now that I've read the fine print. I guess that's why I'm still a little "Edgy."

So sign me that way,


Editor's note: "EDGY," as you might guess, is an amputee who works in the O&P industry. You can e-mail your "Edgy" comments and stories to OandPedgy@aol.com