In this essay, the subject of discussion is if whether a medical professional should use technical words, or more “down-to-earth” terminology when speaking to a patient to explain his/her condition. It is also discussed how a person without medical knowledge probably feels when given with a speech full of complex concepts and, furthermore, why people faced with such speech tend to have worse reactions, interpreting the situation as being a lot more serious than it actually may be.
– Use of medical terminology, or a more accessible when talking to a patient
In a dilemma between the use of medical terminology, or a much simpler speech of easier concepts to be acquired, the last one seems to be much more efficient and with positive results when talking to patients about their condition.
The use of simple speech and lower of concept’s difficulty presents a much clearer chain of ideas that the patients will more openly accept and interiorize. A medical professional should always remain as such; despite this fact, should also be careful to be always clear with the patients, making sure they always fully understand what is going on with them.
For example, instead of saying “You suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome”, the use of simpler terms to explain the same situation is much more positive: “You have your bowel, which means your intestines, irritated because of something you must usually eat that causes this”.
Instead of saying “Your clinical condition shows clear signs of Dementia”, the expression “What makes you forget about things and people is your age” is more acceptable for the patient to understand; or, instead of “An Influenza virus is the cause of you hyperthermia and you may also experience some edema of your adenoid glands later”, saying “The fever you’re having is because you have a flu, so you might also feel your nose clogging and running later”.
As referred, the clinic is a health professional and should keep is posture as such, but, at the same time, should have the sensibility to understand the absence of medical knowledge on his/her patients; thus, the clinic should mold the way of expressing the patient’s condition, using terms and ideas that anyone could understand.
– Prediction of the patient’s own thought when faced with medical complex terminology and cause of exaggerated worse reactions
When faced with a clinic that is using only medical, complex terms to explain the current medical situation, the patient generally feels confused and is not able to understand what the main idea that the health professional is trying to say is.
The patient gets disorientated while the clinic is still talking and, instead of an organized idea, hears just a group of words, which he/she then tries to understand individually, trying to reach some helpful conclusion.
Furthermore, the use of words like “syndrome”, for example, gives the patient the idea of some very complex disease. This way, when using complex words, the clinic is often setting of a state of alarm on the patient.
It is not rare, consequently, that the patient gets the feeling he/she has a very bad, serious illness. By distancing himself/herself from the patients situation and ignorance of medical concepts, the clinic talks in a way that, for the patient, sounds as a situation where the condition must be so grave, the doctor has to use even unknown words to describe it; so it must be really rare.
The understanding of how indicated it is to adapt the terminology used by clinics is easily concluded when observing the patients reaction and expression.
The clinic should, in fact, use proper language, lowered to the patient’s knowledge, so that he/she can acquire the full meaning of the idea regarding his/her condition.
Using formal and technical medical language is proven to have negative impact on the patient, who does not apprehend the clinic’s speech as a whole idea, but has a group of words he tries to figure out individually, seeking some enlightenment.
Taking such in consideration, it is easily understandable, also, why patients often react worse, even in simple conditions: they feel their condition must be rare, needing specific terms, which are complex, to define it; the complexity of these words makes them understand their condition as such.
The clinic should, in resume, mold the way of explaining the patients’ situation, in order to form a clear idea, appearing as understandable to anyone’s common sense.
Changes in medical terminology confuses patients [Data File]. Retrieved from http://www.news-medical.net/news/2008/12/08/43930.pdf
Thompson, Carol Lynn, Pledger, (1993). Doctor-Patient Communication: Is Patient Knowledge of Medical Terminology Improving? [Abstract]. Health Communication, 5(2), 89-97.