House of God Laws - Rumor has it, when medical interns, residents, and nurses need an attitude adjustment because of what they face all day, they refer to the Laws of The House of God.

The laws come from Samuel Shem's book The House of God. A work of fiction, the novel is loosely based on Shem's year as a medical intern. It's a fast pace, cynical view of medical training that bombs all the Marcus Welby M.D. illusions our culture used to carry about the medical profession.

This list is sometimes referred to as "Fat Man's Laws of the House of God" or some variation.

  1. GOMERS DONíT DIE.
  2. GOMERS GO TO GROUND.
  3. AT A CARDIAC ARREST, THE FIRST PROCEDURE IS TO TAKE YOUR OWN PULSE.
  4. THE PATIENT IS THE ONE WITH THE DISEASE.
  5. PLACEMENT COMES FIRST.
  6. THERE IS NO BODY CAVITY THAT CANNOT BE REACHED WITH A #14 NEEDLE AND A GOOD STRONG ARM.
  7. AGE + BUN (Blood Urea Nitrogen) = LASIX DOSE.
  8. THEY CAN ALWAYS HURT YOU MORE.
  9. THE ONLY GOOD ADMISSION IS A DEAD ADMISSION.
  10. IF YOU DONíT TAKE A TEMPERATURE, YOU CANíT FIND A FEVER.
  11. SHOW ME A MEDICAL STUDENT WHO ONLY TRIPLES MY WORK AND I WILL KISS HIS FEET.
  12. IF THE RADIOLOGY RESIDENT AND THE MEDICAL STUDENT BOTH SEE A LESION ON THE CHEST X-RAY, THERE CAN BE NO LESION THERE.
  13. THE DELIVERY OF GOOD MEDICAL CARE IS TO DO AS MUCH NOTHING AS POSSIBLE.

from The House of God
by Samuel Shem,
Richard Marek Publishers, Inc., New York,
©1978 by Samuel Shem


House of God Terminology

From Wikipedia entry for The House of God

GOMER
Acronym of "Get Out of My Emergency Room" and is applied to patients who are frequently admitted with complicated but uninspiring and incurable conditions. He often refers to them as being "too old to die."
Bounce
(verb) A turf that has returned to its first department.
LOL in NAD
(noun) Little Old Lady in No Apparent Distress - an elderly patient who following a minor fall or illness, would be better served by staying at home with good social support, rather than being admitted into a hospital with all the iatrogenic risks of modern medicine. A joke on 'NAD' abbreviation of 'No Abnormality Detected' used to record the absence of abnormal signs on examination.

Turf
(verb) To find an excuse to refer a patient to a different department or team.
Zebra
(noun) A very unlikely diagnosis where a more common disease would be more likely to cause a patient's symptoms - from the common admonition that "if you hear hoof beats, it's more likely to be a horse than a zebra."

House of God Trivia

A film was made of The House of God in 1979. Tim Matheson played Roy Basch, Howard Rollins, Jr. played Chuck, and Michael Sacks played Wayne Potts....It was never released.

Mount Misery is Samuel Shem's less well-known sequel to The House of God. Mount Misery describes Roy Basch's experiences as a psychiatry residency.

House of God Links

The House of God by Samuel Shem
Mount Misery (Sequel to The House of God)

Related Posts

MC — 24 February 2008, 04:39

Rule 11 is medical "student", not resident. The book's written from the resident's perspective.

Brent — 24 February 2008, 06:39

Thanks, MC! You're absolutely right. I'll make the correction.