Mutton dressed/coded as Lamb

By | July 16, 2013

This week while trying to map some terms to SNOMED CT, I discovered what might be considered a trivial ambiguity, but is a good example of where cultural variations – even amongst reasonably similar countries – is a potential hazard with understanding what is meant by some concepts in the terminology.

The source term was mutton and I was after a substance. The best match I could find was 226942002 | lamb |. Even if the term lamb wasn’t also amongst the source terms I couldn’t say this was an equivalent match. Even without Sam Kekovich propoganda, I know it’s not the same thing…

However, a quick look at wikipedia reveals that definition of lamb varies between countries:

US — ovine animals of any age, including ewes and rams
New Zealand — a young sheep under 12 months of age which does not have any permanent incisor teeth in wear
Australia — 0 permanent incisors; female or castrate entire male ovine 0–12 months

So at least for us Antipodeans – lamb and mutton are as different as 226919009 | Fried beef steak | and 226953008 | Fried veal |. (Mutton being an ‘old sheep)

So what other, more clinically significant, terms like this might exist within SNOMED CT and would it be possible to identify them in advance?

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