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Medical jargon putting patients in harm's way


Patients are struggling to understand their doctors because of confusing medical jargon, a study has found.

Almost 80% of people do not know that the word 'impressive' actually means 'worrying' in a medical context.

Critics said using the word borders on 'disrespectful' because 'we're describing something as impressive that is causing real harm for patients'.

More than one in five of respondents could not work out the phrase 'your tumour is progressing', which means a patient's cancer is worsening.

And the majority of participants failed to recognise that 'positive lymph nodes' meant the cancer had spread.

The word 'impressive' means something admirable to most people. But when physicians describe a chest X-ray as impressive, they actually mean it is worrying. Some 79% of study participants did not get this meaning. Only 44 participants correctly understood that a clinician was actually giving them bad news.  

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Source: Mail Online, 1 December 2022

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