Medical language can sometimes irritate patients. And some common things are called straight-carving.
Calling a patient’s neurological exam “crassly intact,” for example, doesn’t sound so great, says Michael Pitt, a pediatrician at the University of Minnesota Medical School in Minneapolis. But it really means that everything is normal and working as expected.
In 2021, Pitt and colleagues asked 215 adults in the Minnesota State Fair to interpret that language and 12 other medical words patients heard from their doctors or read in their notes. People can be offended by familiar words and phrases that have one meaning in common English and a completely different meaning in medicine, researchers report Nov. 30. JAMA Open Network.
Science News headlines in your inbox
Headlines and summaries of the latest Science News articles, delivered to your email inbox every Friday.
Thank you, because I want up!
I’m having trouble subscribing to you.
Only about 20 percent of the people surveyed, for example, understood what it was when their doctor said, “The findings on the X-ray were very serious.” Open your tongue, which means the doctor is giving you bad news, Pitt says — the opposite of what some patients might expect.
When surveyed, doctors overwhelmingly agree to avoid medical jargon when talking to patients, Pitt said. But many people do it without even realizing it. There’s a technical term for this, too, Pitt adds: “lowest oblivion.”
He hopes the results will give his team doctors an “aha moment” and some awareness of phrases that might be intractable to patients. If a doctor says something that’s unclear, Pitt says, he wants patients to be able to talk.
He has built up his family for years. When they go to the doctor, there is one question in particular that they ask. Before they leave the appointment, summarize what the doctor said and ask, “Am I getting this right?”
“It’s amazing to have that kind of expression in your pocket,” Pitt said.
#common #medical #terms #confusing #doctors