9 pieces of medical jargon you might not understand
11 March 2016
Patients have expressed a strong desire to see the medical jargon in correspondence between specialists and their GPs translated into plain English, a New Zealand study of 60 outpatients found.
The study at a New Zealand hospital found that patients had a much better understanding of their chronic disease management when discharge letters had medical jargon replaced with plain English.
Almost 80% of patients preferred the translated letter over the original, and 70% said this enhanced their perception of the doctor’s professionalism.
Here are 9 examples of medical terms (“doctor speak”) with their translated plain-English equivalents. How many of the medical terms on the left do you understand?
|Original term||Translated term|
|Peripheral oedema||Ankle swelling|
|Tachycardia||Fast heart rate|
|Ischaemic heart disease||Coronary artery disease|
|Hypertension||High blood pressure|
|Paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnoea||Waking at night breathless|
|Orthopnoea||Breathless while lying down|
Last Reviewed: 15/03/2016
Reproduced with kind permission from Australian Doctor
1. Wernick M, et al. A randomised crossover trial of minimising medical terminology in secondary care correspondence in patients with chronic health conditions: impact on understanding and patient reported outcomes. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/imj.13062/abstract
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