“California Rocket Fuel”: 5 Slang Terms For Clinical Drug Combinations

Photo Credit: Tom Hilton (Flickr)

Magic Mouthwash? California Rocket Fuel? Even doctors and pharmacists use their own form of street slang.

Along with an alphabet soup of medical jargon and mnemonics — from CPR and EKGs, to ABGs, OPQRST, PMH, HTN, T-bili, BUN, and the ASIS — healthcare providers have invented creative slang terms for drug combinations they use commonly in the hospital or the clinic.

I informally polled a few of my medical and pharmacy colleagues. Here are some of our favorites:

California Rocket Fuel

- Mirtazipine plus venlafaxine, a powerful combination that boosts serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine levels to combat treatment-resistant depression.

Magic Mouthwash

- A hodge-podge of topical anesthetics, antibiotics, and anti-inflammatories to swish around in your mouth if have mucositis. That’s soreness and inflammation of the mucosa (soggy tissue) that lines your mouth and esophagus, which is highly sensitive to the DNA damage caused by chemo and radiation therapy.

Banana Bag, aka Rally Pack

- Important vitamins and minerals, including folic acid, thiamine, and magnesium, mixed into a bag of IV fluids, giving it a yellow appearance. Doctors use Banana Bags in the hospital and emergency room to correct nutritional deficiencies and electrolyte imbalances in alcoholic patients and others who are extremely malnourished–and therefore at risk of a particular kind of psychosis and brain damage. It’s also known as a good cure for the common hangover.

GI Cocktail

- A sip of thick liquid, including antacid and topical anesthetic, that alleviates indigestion. Interestingly, emergency room doctors used to prescribe the GI cocktail to rule out a heart attack, as symptoms of indigestion can be similar in nature and location. Don’t worry, it’s not your heart — just indigestion. Until reports came in of patients who felt 100% better after a GI cocktail and were released, but turned out to have real angina and full-on heart attacks. Doctors still use it to treat indigestion, just not to make a diagnosis.

Triple Cocktail

- With possibly the biggest impact on patients’ lives, the Triple Cocktail is the combination of drugs that attack HIV from multiple angles, halting viral replication and making HIV-positive individuals effectively non-infectious (when taken consistently as prescribed). Some companies now manufacture combination pills, making the “cocktail” term somewhat anachronistic.

Any med folks out there have terms to add to this list?

Posted by Amanda Angelotti MD on January 30, 2014