In April, the 21st Century Cures Act made it mandatory for US healthcare providers to give patients electronic access to most notes taken by their doctors and nurses. How has this new practice changed the doctor-patient relationship? A new article leaves us with some interesting takeaways:
● Jargon gets in the way. Medical jargon is often called out for the way it makes medical communication and knowledge less accessible for patients. This continues to be the case; author Elizabeth Preston reports that patients are often confused by specific medical terminology in their notes.
The jargon isn't just medical terms. It's also found in phrases like "The patient denies..." which is a typical phrase that doctors use to mean "The patient does not or has not..."
● Not all patients read these notes. Despite their potential uses and helpfulness, not all patients read the notes they now have access to. In some cases, this highlights barriers that keep patients from the full benefits of healthcare - including language barriers and access to internet at home.
● Doctors' notes can be offensive. Whenever any of us are gathering information, we tend to take shortcuts to describe things efficiently. And so, terms like "elderly" or "alcoholic" might show up in a doctor's quickly jotted description of a patient. Some patients may not mind this, but others have complained to doctors and healthcare centers about the use of certain terms.
Some of the complaints come from language that isn't inherently offensive - take the word "elderly
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