Nixing jargon, and the headlines

July 7, 2016

In order to bring you more of the news you want to read, RightCare Weekly summarizes and interprets three important articles and provides headlines linking to the many other articles and editorials you’ll find interesting. As always, RightCare Weekly presents articles related to moving our healthcare system toward the right care for all patients.

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Among the many things that annoy patients is having their physicians communicate medical information using medical jargon. In an opinion piece this week on, Roxanne Khamsi writes about the evils of medical speak, which not only confuses patients, but also may lower a clinician’s standing among peers. One study, involving dozens of physicians in training and actors pretending to be patients at different test stations in a hospital, showed that trainees who used jargon were rated less professional than those who did not—both by fellow trainees and the actor-patients. More importantly, jargon can increase a patient’s sense of powerlessness. Khamsi quotes from The Lost Art of Healing, a book written by our founder, Bernard Lown, MD.  Lown referred to a patient’s condition as “T.S.” The patient assumed that “T.S.” meant “terminal situation,” instead of what it really was—an abbreviation for her tricuspid stenosis—something she had had for years. Physicians and other healthcare professionals might do well to take a page from Winston Churchill who advised: “Short words are best, and old words, when short are the best of all.”


  • Today’s RightCare Weekly is abbreviated due to the Independence Day holiday. Look for full versions resuming next week.
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