Thursday, April 20, 2006

Attention diagnosticians: why are you using the term FLK?

OK little rant coming. Click away now or be forewarned.

Why are we seeing this persistent acronym which stands for "funny looking kid" in medical records? As a diagnosis?

FLK is an informal term used when the clinician feels the child has mild or soft signs of a possible genetic syndrome. In other words, when he has mild dysmorphic features.

Why not say "mild dysmorphic features" to begin with?

Now, it's bad enough when this term is thrown around in general conversation between clinicians. I know what you mean, and you know I know what you mean. It's like shorthand, or abbreviation. It's not the most disrespectful of terms, but it's one you would not really and truly like to let a parent overhear you using, is it? So, bad enough to use it in everyday conversation.

But it is not a diagnosis. And it is not a proper description of a sign or symptom, either.

If you mean "the child has mild dysmorphic features possibly indicating a genetically based syndrome"...say that.

Do not---do not---write FLK as a diagnosis or as part of your evaluation of systems. Which I have seen twice---TWICE---this week alone in medical records. Tell me this is not being taught in medical school. Tell me there is not a professor running around telling you to use that term in written diagnostic terminology.

For heaven's sake, people. Why am I having this conversation?

mary (goes off to get a cold iced tea and consider the state of modern pediatrics)


Blogger Kim said...

Whoa, that is not right.

Use MDF (mild dysmorphic features) or some such acronym but FLK is downright cruel!

Rant on!

10:28 PM  
Anonymous Kimi said...


That's shocking. As Kim (nice name!) suggests, wy not used a more appropriate acronym?

MDF is used (here, anyway) for Medium Density Fibreboard. Though there wouldn't be much risk of confusion in context. :-)

11:08 PM  
Blogger mary said...

How coincidental, to hear from two of my favorite KIM-ers in the same post! Karma, man. Far out.

"There are more powers at work in the world" and all that...



12:46 PM  
Anonymous mitch said...

i am shocked that anyone would use such a term outrageous they should be ashamed of themselves

11:20 AM  

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