How Can Medical Jargons Affect Healthcare?

Medical jargon very often becomes a hindrance to health literacy.

Terms like heart failure continue to mislead some who might think of it as a fatal situation where the heart stops beating.

Health literacy is important for each one of us. At one point in life, we all might need to find, understand and use medical information to avail health services. Health literacy might be absolutely necessary when it comes to understanding our own health and that of loved ones. The concept of health literacy is multifaceted and could include all knowledge that might be essential for our well-being. Medical jargon very often becomes a hindrance to health literacy. Sometimes the terminology used in healthcare cannot be understood by patients and other times it can be misleading.

For instance, the term heart failure is many times misinterpreted as heart-stopping to beat. However, on the contrary, heart failure is a progressive medical condition which means that your heart is not working to its potential but it is working nonetheless. It is a serious situation but doesn’t mean the person is dead. Hearing the word heart failure can be shocking to many. As per experts, other words like malignancy and benign might also create a lot of confusion. A situation like this might not only delay treatment but can also prevent patients from making well-informed decisions.

How can medical jargon cause trouble?

Every working field has its jargons. While not being able to understand a legal document might make you suffer loss, the consequences could be grave if it is a medical report or a clinical visit or a health advisory on television. Studies have shown that the use of medical jargon while communicating with a patient can be intimidating. Researchers explain how many patients undergoing procedures like angioplasty might feel anxious because some steps of the process are not understood or lost in translation. While absolute avoidance of medical jargon is idealistic, explanation and consistent verification of whether the patient understood might be ensured. As per a study, the literacy of terms like ‘palpitation’ and ‘angina’ has been found to be low among patients. The awareness of these symptoms is indispensable. Studies have also found that prefixes like ‘hyper’ and ‘hypo’ might also create confusion among patients.

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