The following phone call happened to one of the doctors at the acute admissions ward at the hospital where I am currently doing my fourth year elective:
REFERRING DOCTOR FROM RURAL CLINIC: I have a ten-year-old patient with meningism to refer.
DOCTOR: Alright, can you tell me more?
REFERRING DOCTOR: The patient has meningism and is acutely ill. She also has a reduced level of consciousness.
DOCTOR: What is the patient’s GCS?
REFERRING DOCTOR: (long pause with the sound of pages being turned) No… unfortunately the GCS is out of stock.
Since the patient was actually alive, I don’t think the doctor could have intended it figuratively. There is a significant language barrier in this province (well, in South Africa in general), so perhaps that contributed to this unfortunate communication. Of course, sound quality is sometimes quite poor when a call is to or from a rural area, so perhaps there is a sort of logical explanation…