November 25th, 2016

ID Cartoon Caption Contest #2 Winner — and a New Contest for the Holidays

Every so often, one of my regular readers (which must number at least a dozen at this point, including my extended family, dog, and cat) asks me where I come up with ideas.

The answer, of course, is that there are infinite sources of inspiration in the field of Infectious Diseases — the difficulty is choosing what fascinating topic will be the target of this week’s cogent and definitive analysis.

Or, I can just steal something, which is what I’ve unabashedly done with the Cartoon Contest, modeled after the more established version from The New Yorker.

And here’s the winner of the summertime contest, an outdoor scene that might bring back fond memories of warm breezes, long days at the beach, and dining al fresco:

"No thanks, I’m watching my carbon footprint."

                                     “No thanks, I’m watching my carbon footprint.”

We’ll give Philip Morganelli the top prize on this one, though he’ll need to share the generous honorarium with John Lee, who introduced the whole “carbon footprint” theme and might have provided Philip some inspiration.

But I confess this contest turned out a bit differently than anticipated. With such an ID-oriented crowd, I figured the obviously very well-done burgers would generate plenty of funny captions about food safety. If you’re wondering what I mean, take a look at this most unappetizing food truck:


Concern about underdone burgers prompted my next door neighbors Ben and Carol to call the well-done hockey pucks favored by ID specialists “Madoff burgers”. It’s in honor of Dr. Lawrence Madoff, an ID doctor who works at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, who periodically attends our neighborhood cookouts — you can guess Larry’s emphatic answer to the question, “And how would you like that done?” Perhaps he will be introducing his own line of crispy fast food soon.

Yet none of the top three captions chosen by our AHA (Advanced Humor Algorithm) had anything remotely to do with infectious food safety:

  1. “No thanks, I’m watching my carbon footprint.” (the now-famous Philip Morganelli)
  2. “Sorry, I was using fire in the belly as a figure of speech.” (JRMD)
  3. No thanks. They always give me heartburn.” (Aaron Kassoff)

Perhaps I poisoned (ha) the ID entries by introducing the drawing with this gloomy sentence: “We must be vigilant to the ever rising threat of both foodborne pathogens and carcinogenic heterocyclic amines.” Come to think of it, that alone could have been a (very unfunny) caption.

This time, you’ll get no such leading leading statement — here’s the cartoon, let your inspiration run wild:


Post captions in the comments section (preferred), or if you’re shy, email them to me at

(Drawing by Anne Sax.)

92 Responses to “ID Cartoon Caption Contest #2 Winner — and a New Contest for the Holidays”

  1. Jefferson H Dickey says:

    “When in doubt, examine the patient.”
    “He looks better in real life than he does here.”
    “That IS a cute photo of your daughter’s puppy.”

  2. andipandi says:

    “Look Helen and Greg, Google says it’s never lupus.”

  3. Nirav Patel says:

    Dr. Google, I presume?

  4. Ted Rader says:

    “As you can see, we have been wrong for years. Girls do in fact, carry cooties.”

  5. Megan Saunders says:

    I still can’t believe it’s over for Brangelina.

  6. Nancy Rosen says:

    On this level you need to use the lollipop hammers and the striped candies.

  7. Vinicius Lopes says:

    Oh, look: he’s septic.

  8. Jeff Lennox says:

    I told you, the foot bone IS connected to the ankle bone!

  9. Daniel Lim says:

    “Remember your ABCs – Airway, Breathing, Computer…”

    • Howard says:

      MACRA requisites!!?? A new EHR? Cross cutting measures? We lucked out the medical student is already managing the patient.

  10. Loretta S says:

    “Diagnosing this computer virus is SO much easier than taking a complete patient history.”

    “The ID algorithm says we should ask him if he has any pets!”

  11. Monica says:

    I don’t know … let’s go ask the pharmacist!

  12. Monica says:

    TOUCHDOWN! Patriot’s now have 14 points …. which is also conveniently our patient’s duration of therapy.

  13. Reader says:

    I think you tap here to take his pulse.

  14. Sean Mackintosh says:

    Try 1-2-3-4, it’s the same password as my luggage.

  15. Howard Heller says:

    I put ” W61.43 Pecked by a turkey” on his problem list just to cheer up the people in the coding office.

  16. miriam says:

    I thought YOU took the epic refresher????

  17. Alexa Swailes says:

    “Just as I feared…it’s a virus.”

  18. Silvia says:

    Go! Pick the left one first!

  19. Henry Ainge-Allen says:

    Your thoughts, Dr Google?

  20. carolyn sax says:

    “Control-Alt-E performs a physical exam”

  21. Manish Shah says:

    First you copy forward, then edit. The physical is optional if it was done before.

  22. Allison Ouellette says:

    Does anyone know his reason for admission? All that’s written here is ‘2016’.

  23. JDB says:

    “Better to use the touchscreen than touch the patient….”

    • JDB says:

      Amending my own entry!

      “I tend to find using the touchscreen preferable to touching the patient….”

  24. Yo says:

    So how long this Windows 10 update is going to take?!

  25. Heather says:

    Darn! We got the Blue Screen of Death again!

  26. Chris says:

    Hmmmm….. okay I give up. Let’s try talking to the patient instead.

  27. Jordan says:

    “If you put this 8 on the 9, you’ll have a free column for that king.”

  28. Mary Bennett says:

    Which one of us gets to look at the patient to notice that the IV isn’t connected?

  29. Cara says:

    “Look, it’s January 20th. No wonder this guy is so sick.”

  30. Vernon Swygert says:

    We’ve found ourselves on the cartoon caption page! Say something funny!

  31. Rebecca Ludwig says:

    Hey, I found Pikachu in the Emergency Department!

  32. Gene Durkin says:

    When you click “Troubleshooting”, it says “Step 1; Find a med student’

  33. Jesse Parr says:

    “Well, I don’t know. I took personal time to de-stress during Spleen.”

  34. Ben Appenheimer says:

    ‘Oh great, the H&P hasn’t even been done yet. How are we supposed to know what’s going on with him?!?’

  35. Alejandro Prieto says:

    just 432 more likes and we’ll be ready for surgery

  36. JDT says:

    Forget about him…these SNL sketches are hilarious.

  37. Maddison Taylor says:

    ‘There is nothing on the Brain MRI that explains this.’
    ‘What else could be causing his delusional behaviour to apply for medical school?’

  38. LAW says:

    October 31, 2016
    “I think he’s on to us!”

  39. Nolan Turnbull says:

    “In order to emphasize patient-centered care, this new interface has been implemented to track your patients social media updates!”

  40. Susanna says:

    Sorry,I tried to ask the patient about his past medical history by email,but he is not answering.I suppose he is not connected..

  41. “Looks like he’s tachypneic.”

  42. JDavren says:

    Wow! What a Cyber Monday deal on an MRI!

  43. Ahmad Aiman says:

    “The patient complaints of headache, but it is written here as bilateral orchidectomy”

  44. Thomas Kis-Major says:

    ‘OMG! Such discolorations I’ve only seen on stiffs before!’

  45. Guilherme C says:

    “See? I told you! Symptom Checker says he’s pregnant!”

  46. Nile Barnes says:

    I am not going to tell him,

    You tell him !

    Can we just keep looking at the screen until he goes away?

  47. Dirceu A. Müller says:

    … and if you need I.D. guidance, prescribe “vanco + zosyn” three times and press “enter”…

  48. Alvaro Lopez says:

    Wait! I know what to do! I used to be a Chief Resident!

  49. Stephanie says:

    Let’s see here, hmm WebMD seems to agree with our diagnosis. Good work team.

  50. dj says:

    “Now we can say we did rounds at bedside”

HIV Information: Author Paul Sax, M.D.

Paul E. Sax, MD

Contributing Editor

NEJM Journal Watch
Infectious Diseases

Biography | Disclosures | Summaries

Learn more about HIV and ID Observations.