Removing jargon: Why are physicians singled out?

My voice recognition software insists on typing “when needed” when I say “PRN,” and the other day I saw an orthopedic note that said, “before meals joint.” I was sure that the straight-laced orthopedic surgeon did not intend to tell the world anything about anybody’s cannabis use. Instead, it was obvious he had spoken the words “AC joint,” meaning acromioclavicular (on top of the shoulder). But AC can also mean “before meals,” (ante cibum).

Hospitals and health care credentialing bodies make us use plain English instead of medical terms and abbreviations. They say it is to avoid confusion. I think it often creates confusion when doctors are forced to speak as if we didn’t know medicine.

Why are we singled out for this dumbing down? Why are we robbed of the language of our own craft?

How would it be if the tech industry couldn’t use abbreviations like LCD, LED and HDTV?

What if Wall Street outlawed terms like hedge, spread and spot market?

What if military jargon was verboten in the war rooms of the Pentagon?

What if coaches weren’t allowed to scream any technical terms to their teams from the sidelines?

Do we really think a jargon-free, plain speaking world will move with greater accuracy and with anywhere near acceptable speed if we remove the majority of the new language our progress was built on?

“A Country Doctor” is a family physician who blogs at A Country Doctor Writes:.

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