Dermatology patients can wish to be aware of core terms, although your dermatologist should explain them.
A doctor shouldn’t complicate issues with medical jargon, acronyms, or buzzwords. Understanding your condition, along with the best way forward brings peace of mind and contributes towards successful treatment.
Outcomes are influenced by whether patients understand their diagnosis and treatment requirements. If you leave an appointment and need to start using Google to grasp what was said, there’s a problem.
Sound communication also helps families, or carers be involved in a positive way, if they attend, or if accurate information is relayed to them.
Patient safety is about maximising aspects that go well and minimising any that do not. Communication plays a role in this, to highlight positive opportunities and avoid misunderstanding, which may have unintended consequences.
The Covid pandemic focused medical minds on communication, when contact could be solely by phone, or video link. Along with a good diagnosis and treatment path, patients needed to receive as clear and concise an explanation as they would in person.
Research has shown how communication errors can occur in difficult situations. A 2018 study of A & E visits found that the demands on staff could cause issues, along with the often fragile physical, or psychological conditions of patients.
Barriers to patients making informed decisions can be created by circumstance but the same could apply in any medical setting. Staff have a duty to be clear, dermatologists in particular deal with a wide field and for the safety of their patients, need to overcome barriers.
A patient visiting a consultant dermatologist and being told their melanoma has metastasised may understand but being told the disease has spread is better. A hard enough message to take in, without possible lack of understanding.
Neither should there be debates about differences between dermatitis and eczema, where a patient prefers one of them and they’re essentially the same. Multiple lesions can often just mean a rash, so no harm saying so.
Clarity of language should be consistent, with each segment of a consultation understood, rather than explaining everything at the end. Any self management tasks, or preparation for future visits should be equally clear.
When any of us are embedded in a subject, we can assume others will understand. Neither does having high level knowledge, or education in one area always give greater access to another, as a 2020 study on understanding dermatology terms proved.
A medical consultant should give patients understanding, as should all staff they come into contact with. Each staff member has a role to play in delivering healthcare and keeping patients safe.
You are welcome to look at our medical dermatology section. There are a number of possible conditions, with an alphabetic menu leading to pages with clear explanations, where jargon is largely avoided.
Not understanding parts of this is still normal and our team will take time to explain anything you wish, which is the best way to protect your health.