Medical Terminology Leaving Patients in the Dark

In a recent article, run in the Wall Street Journal, titled “Taking Medical Jargon Out of Doctors’ Visits,” writer Laura Landro investigates the relationship between some medical patient’s decline in health and his or her inability to comprehend certain medical terminology. In line with this premise, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have said that “Nearly nine out of ten adults have difficulty following routine medical advice, largely because it’s often incomprehensible to average people.”

Landro goes on to provide results of a study conducted by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco and Kaiser Permanente: the study, involving 14,000 diabetes patients “found that more than half the patients reported problems learning about their conditions, and 40% needed help reading medical materials.”

Following such compelling results, many state Medicaid agencies are now calling for “health materials to be written at a reading level of between the fourth and sixth grades,” and, now, certain software programs are being put to use by insurers, rating documents on “general readability,” and replacing difficult medical terms with “plain-language alternatives.” An example of changes made to a difficult medical document would be removing the term “hyperlipidemia” with the phrase, “a high level of fats in the blood.”

To read “Taking Medical Jargon Out of Doctors’ Visits,” by Laura Landro, visit the following link: