hospital pass

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hospital pass (plural hospital passes)

  1. (literally) A pass (for schools, military, etc.) exempting one from regular activities, to instead visit a hospital for treatment
  2. (figuratively, sports, Britain, Australia, Ireland) A poorly executed pass to a team-mate, who is likely to lose the ball as a result. (Originally rugby union, where the recipient of a hospital pass is a sitting duck for a hard tackle.)
    • 2009 (23 November), Mark Fleming "Kakuta puts rare talent on display", The Independent (London):
      His first touch was horrid – a hospital pass to Juliano Belletti – but from that moment on his eye-catching football was wonderful to witness.
    • 2011, Tom Fordyce, Rugby World Cup 2011: England 12-19 France
      Flood popped out a careless off-load deep in the French 22 to allow a clearing kick to snuff out the danger, and when Nick Easter tried to rumble from deep within his own 22 his hospital pass to Tuilagi triggered another knock-on.
    • 2012 (5 August), As It Happened - SFC quarter-finals RTÉ:
      Brian Maguire is booked for the challenge on Leo McLoone, who was chasing a hospital pass from Mark McHugh.
  3. (by extension) a promotion or delegation which is likely to end in failure or ignominy; a poisoned chalice
    • 1997 (23 July) Gary Streeter, Hansard HC Deb vol 298 c980:
      Having identified a problem, he took no action to deal with it. Lacking the courage of our convictions, he gave a hospital pass to the Bank of England, which then had little option but to step in and raise interest rates
  4. (figuratively, Ultimate Frisbee) A throw that stays in the air long enough that it allows too many people to get underneath it, increasing the risk of injury and a trip to the hospital.