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Editor's Correspondence
July 12, 2010

The Perfect Storm Abates

Arch Intern Med. 2010;170(13):1176. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2010.202

Scholars in the medical field are, not surprisingly, influenced by popular culture. MEDLINE searches for several movie titles were performed, restricted to the title field. The Figure shows the number of times the title words of several popular movies were located from 1993 through 2009. There appears to be an association between the release date of the movies listed and the number of titles located subsequently. In the case of “mission impossible,” the 2 recent peaks may be related to the release of sequels in 2000 and 2006. The trend in the use of “perfect storm” is certainly the most remarkable. In 2008, this phrase appeared on Lake Superior State University's well-known List of Banished Words,1 which may be 1 reason for the decreased use since then. Perhaps “perfect storm” has infiltrated the medical literature because it captures, in popular language, what Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine2 would refer to as a coalescence or concurrence of clinical factors. Or perhaps the huge waves in the movie seem to fit the tumult of our health care system. Although the future is up in the air, using the title of the highest grossing film of all time will require an author to be the very avatar of creativity.

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