Surprisingly, EM Notecards in verse are a huge success (or at least they are a novelty of sorts in the EM blogosphere). Occasionally on sign-out after a long shift I will threaten the residents with having to present in Haiku if they don’t keep their sign out on point, so there is a precedent. I will say that having to distill a medical article into four lines of verse is not as hard as you might think, which makes me more convinced than ever that professional medical writing is too wordy, and just bad plain bad.
One of the most common problems is the mistaken belief that more words make you sound smarter. How many times have you read a journal abstract and realized that the article could have been summarized clearly in one sentence (instead of the long run-on paragraph filled with medical techno-babble you were unfortunately subjected to).
I know plenty of medical literature citing patient hand-offs as the source of medical errors, but none of these, to my knowledge, have looked at the length or format of the presentation being an issue. In my experience a dull, disorganized narrative with the important points buried in irrelevant prose makes the mind go numb.
So this note card in verse is inspired by a study that was reviewed by Dr. Radecki, over at Emergency Medicine Literature of Note. I really love this site. For a busy EP, having an online source that curates and critiques current articles rather than slogging through the general detritus is a good thing. In addition he writes well, and can sum up the essence of a study in a few hundred words. So if for some bizarre reason you want more cogent reviews of the current literature than four lines of iambic pentameter, I encourage you to add EM Lit of Note to your blog feed.