Dr. Phillips is a Professor of Radiology, Director of Head
and Neck Imaging, at Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New
York–Presbyterian Hospital, New York, NY. He is a member of the Applied Radiology Editorial Advisory Board.
had pretty incredible feedback from the bit of ranting I did the last
few months. So, if howling at the moon, as it were, is what you like,
fear not. I have a few stored up, and I can get on it again. I need a
little respite from just complaining, though. So, I thought I would
discuss another topic near and dear (and potentially also irritating) to
Here’s a simple command. Turn to the right. Move your
right hand. Look to the right. Easy, eh? Kids do it. Your friends can
do it. You probably used to be able to do it. HOWEVER, NOW YOU’RE A
RADIOLOGIST. Right is left, and left is right, right? Or, should I say
correct? I know you’ve done it. You have that momentary indecision about
someone telling you right or left. You have to remember you’re not at
work, because at work EVERYTHING IS BACKWARDS.
I’ll tell you how
this came to me as a problem. Any runners in the audience? Lately, there
are these new running socks that are really nice. Thin, padded, really
comfortable, and great for people who run a fair distance, or maybe not
so far a distance. Here’s the kicker, though. They are not like other
socks – that, as we all know, are unifoot. These have a right and left
side, marked with a little R or L. And, yep, I’ve been wearing them on
the wrong foot. I wondered why they weren’t that comfortable, and why I
had these unusual marks on my feet from the elastic in them. I have it
straightened out now, and they are doing the thing they are supposed to
do on my feet.
We’ve all had that experience of turning the wrong
way, raising the wrong hand, or something mildly embarrassing because of
our insistence that right is left and left is right. I saw a deposition
one time and a nonradiology physician was trying to explain to an
attorney about the films. It was almost a “who’s on first” moment. “You
said right, but you’re pointing to the left.” “Yeah, that’s the way the
radiologists do their films.” “Why?” “Because they’re radiologists. They
always do that.” “Why?” “Because they always do.” You get the picture.
We know we’re right, though. Everyone else is wrong. Or, is that left? Mahalo.