May 3, 2021Eric Postal, MD

When STAT is the norm, maybe it’s time to re-evaluate.

An incredulous colleague felt the need to reach out and vent to me this past week: A hospital he covers had made “Super-STAT” an official part of their workflow.

The term is probably familiar to any readers who have been working in healthcare for more than a little while. At first blush, I think most have the same reaction to it: “What’s the point?”

STAT means something needs to happen right away. I’ve never actually been clear on why folks feel the need to capitalize the entire word. It’s not an acronym, it’s short for statim, latin for “immediately.” Still, everyone else does the all-caps thing, so who am I to differ? STAT it is.

If STAT means immediately, a reasonable person might wonder how “super-STAT” could be any faster. Until somebody figures out how to manipulate the flow of time, STAT is, by definition, as fast as it gets.

A definition that doesn’t long survive contact with the real world, unfortunately. Talk about immediacy all you want, but resources are limited. People and objects can only move so fast and do so much.

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