In Healthcare, Words, Words, Words:Do We Understand Them?
I attended a lecture today given by Tina Castanares, M.D. for the Providence Healthcare System on the medical/social issues regarding access to care for Latino immigrants. Many of the immigrants know no English or understand English only poorly. She suggested that physicians and other healthcare providers who care for these immigrants should be cautioned not to take for granted that the patient would understand many words that are casually spoken to them as part of professionals discussing the immigrant's care and disposition.
What struck me was that besides Latino immigrants, I am not sure that the English speaking non-immigrants, one born and living all their life in the United States really know what these same words fully mean and represent. By the way, many of the words are readily used in other countries. I decided to create this thread to find out what words that are commonly used in healthcare mean to my U.S. and foreign English reading visitors. Let me know which words are unknown, ill-defined, mis-defined, misunderstood. About which particular words should professionals talking with patients be made aware that the patient may not understand. Good communication is an essential component of healthcare. In terms of potential benefit to the patient, good communication may be as valuable as the drug prescribed as therapy.
Here are the words as Dr. Castanares listed them:
"hospice, palliative care,comfort care,futile care,risks of care,ubiquity of medical error, assisted living,adult foster home, medical social workers, discharge planning,home health,gatekeepers,primary care, care coordination,case management, withdrawal or withholding of life support, patient's rights, ethics, advance directive,POLST,healthcare representative, decisionmaking capacity,informed consent,HIPAA, privacy, confidentiality, records release, intensive care, resusitation"
Words,words,words.. but do we really understand them? ..Maurice.
Addendum 8-4-2008: You may be interested in reading another thread about the new medical care words that patients must learn including a link to a quiz testing your knowledge.