Watch Your Language!—Misusage and Neologisms in Clinical Communication

Lead author: Andrew M. Luks
Submitted by: Janice Radway, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

The authors make a compelling argument as to why clinicians should avoid using jargon: “Despite our best efforts to ensure appropriate care for patients, we often find ourselves distracted on rounds by the sometimes bewildering array of jargon during bedside presentations. Why does our team want to “sprinkle” or “hit” the patient with diuretics? Do our patients have the capacity to “fly” off the ventilator or “throw” PVCs (premature ventricular contractions)? …Perhaps the biggest challenges arise when we consider how our words sound to patients and their families. Many of our word choices run the risk of confusing them rather than clarifying the patient’s condition, diagnosis, or treatment. They may nod, but do they clearly understand what we have said? Even worse, are they offended by what they hear?”

Read the full article in Journal of the American Medical Association here.

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