Understanding Medical Jargon


Understanding medical jargon is one of the major problems that patients have during their health check-ups. Often doctors forget that they are talking to someone who has no conception of medical terminology. The result is that you feel as if you are communicating with a hostile Martian! This situation can be avoided. You cannot change the way your doctor speaks but you can certainly change your own approach. Here’s how:

Listen carefully, and then ask questions. Being a good listener helps. Listen to what your doctor has to tell you before you start asking questions. Asking questions is really important. Often, people don’t want to ask questions because they don’t want to appear ignorant. The reverse is actually true: if you go on nodding your head when the doctor is giving you directions or explaining your illness to you, and then go home and do precisely what he asked you not do – will that make you appear very intelligent? If there is something that you are not clear about, make it a point to ask your doctor to explain. Don’t feel ashamed to say “I don’t understand…could you explain that once more, please.” Particularly seniors are often hesitant about asking questions. It is not your fault that you don’t understand. It’s good to ask questions and be clear about what you are suffering from. After all, it’s your body, and you have a right to know what is wrong and how things may be helped. One suggestion is that you carry a notepad with you, or even a handy voice-recording device. Tell your doctor what you are doing, and why you are recording the conversation. Go home, go through your notes, or listen to the recording. If you need clarification feel free to call up your doctor and ask further questions.