Breaking the code



A system of words, letters, figures, or other symbols used to represent others, esp. for the purposes of secrecy. – Wikipedia

Healthcare workers regardless of position and rank are trained in institutions to learn medical terminology. It is crucial that information regarding patient care is delivered quickly and no time is wasted. Thousands of Latin/Greek terms are committed to memory, and just as many abbreviations, mneumonics and eponymous names are expected to be used fluently on a daily basis. This ‘code’ enables the multi-disciplinary team the ability to speak to one another; but what of the patient and families that require education and knowledge about their diagnosis, prognosis and treatment options? Are they being left out of the loop?

Health Literacy is a fairly new concept. Does empowering the patient/family reduce hospital admissions? You bet it does. If a patient is given a brochure about Diabetes, but cannot understand the language, what is the point? Could that brochure be more beneficial by lowering the reading level of the language and adding pictures?

What if members of the healthcare team were making every effort to use lay terms when describing this diagnosis to the patient? Our healthcare culture needs to work towards simplifying information.

Educate your students on when it is appropriate to use medical terminolgy, and give them the tools to truly help their patients. Break the code.

For more information or resources, please see my link Health Literacy to the Public Health Agency of Canada.


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Its in your hands

Once again the influenza season has arrived, and much like the weather; the strains can be mild in some years and virulent in others. Unfortunatey 2012-2013 seems to be the latter. If you have been able to avoid this years nasty strains, and there are a few; consider yourself  one of the lucky ones. It is difficult to find a household or workplace that has not been invaded. If you work in the healthcare field or have students who will be entering the healthcare field it is crucial that you/they understand the precautions needed to protect themselves and lower your/theyr’e risk of contraction. Although we are inundated with commercials for pharmaceutical remedies and print ads that encourage consumption of elixxirs and potions to lessen the severity once infected; we are still falling short on education. Most handwashing commercials and adds, (which have significantly increased in the past several years) are generally geared towards children. To win this bug battle we must do better. A LOT BETTER. You only have to look at recent news articles like this one from the Vancouver Sun which illustrates the poor compliance of Doctors in British Columbia:

If the doctors are not complying, what about nurses, students, UC’s, RT’s, PT’s etc? Not to mention visitors and patients! The potential for the spread of infectious Viruses/Diseases is enormous!

Simple handwashing and enhanced precautions when dealing with patients in the clinical setting can reduce the risk enormously. So educate yourself, educate your students. I have provided several links on mymedicinechest which contain videos, pamplets and a plethora of facts and figures to share. Now go wash your hands and teach!

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“Wherever the a…

“Wherever the art of Medicine is loved, there is also a love of Humanity.”

– Hippocrates

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