Monday, August 2, 2010

Do You Speak Medicalese?

Laura Landro of the Wall Street Journal writes a great column titled The Informed Patient.  She tackles many issues facing people and health care today.  One of her articles shines a light on a huge problem that hurts health care.  Apparently, nine out of ten adults have difficulty following routine medical advice, because they do not understand what the doctor is saying.  A medical doctor may use scientific medical terms and medical phrases that a patient does not understand.  Since the patient cannot totally comprehend what the doctor is saying, the patient fails to follow through with doctor directives like taking medicine or getting additional diagnostic tests.  The loss in translation can worsen patient outcome and lead to further health care costs.

Many Federal and State officials are encouraging doctors and insurers to simplify the medical language and instructions given to patients.  This is a great trend.  However, you as a patient should demand communication that you understand.  There should be no embarrassment in trying to decipher your medical condition.  You should have respect for your body.  Even if you can't do it for you, imagine that you are keeping down health care costs by getting treatment protocols right the first time.  In any event, a patient should not have to learn a second language for a doctor's visit.

Stay healthy & well,

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