Drop the Jargon: Speak Plainly to Patients
An oncologist on why we should drop the penias and pathics in favor of plain language when we talk to patients.
Mikkael Sekeres, MD, MS, Director of the Leukemia Program at Cleveland Clinic Cancer Center, wants his fellow physicians to stop “the medical jargon we often sling with abandon” in favor of language that makes sense to patients. His recent editorial in ASH Clinical News explores this issue through a recent Academy of Medical Royal Colleges effort instructing specialists on how to write letters to patients, and through conversations with his parents during his medical training.
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He writes: “Once I started my hematology/oncology fellowship, I had shed all pretense of wherewithal, as the field has a language distinct even from the rest of medicine and because all my patients had just been handed a cancer diagnosis. Adding to their fear and confusion by using complicated terms that also were new to me would simply have been cruel. I slowed down, spoke plainly, acknowledged and shared in their grief, and helped them heal and rebuild.”