3 Exclusive Reasons Why You Need to Take a Closer Look at Medical Abbreviations

In continuation of medical jargon and terminology knowledge, it is ever so important for you to identify and understand medical abbreviations, signs, and symbols. As the healthcare industry continues to change course and new regulations evolve (from our post-pandemic era) the medical recording governance continues to fall on the patient’s shoulders. And there are three “new normals” that patients should be aware of.

  1. You can’t always bring someone with you in the treatment room.
  2. You can expect a personal phone call from your physician to explain your results as standard practice (results are now received online).
  3. You can’t count on a fast turn over for results.

Thus, making it even more necessary to familiarize oneself with medical jargon, terminology, and abbreviations (signs and symbols).

After reading this article, you will expect to have a full understanding as to why abbreviations are important to understand, and you will find it easier to interpret medical notes on your own (our next educational article).

There are various scenarios where people may find themselves in a bit of a pinch if these medical component knowledge is not understood. And the goal of this article is to help readers become more acclimated in proactively taking charge in governance of care.

First, Let’s Define Medical Abbreviations

Medical Abbreviations are shortened forms of complex words or phrases. These abbreviations are usually used while maintaining clinical or medical records.

The Importance of Medical Abbreviations

These abbreviations are primarily used to save time while taking notes when the doctors and nurses are examining the patients. Medical abbreviations have their roots in medical jargon and terminology. As you might know, medical jargon is the common word that clinicians might use to explain a medical condition. In contrast, the said medical condition has a name known as medical terminology.

They are hard to understand for non-specialists since they have little to no knowledge about the complex structure of words that these abbreviations are composed of.

Why Do Clinicians Use Medical Abbreviations?

Here are three reasons why medical abbreviations are essential and widely used.

1. Using Abbreviations Saves Time

It’s common knowledge that the medical staff is one of the busiest people on the planet. With the pandemic hitting us hard, it has become clear that the medical staff’s time is crucial. That’s why when they have to maintain records of hundreds of patients every day, it becomes easier if they can express long medical terminologies in a few words.

2. Communication between Staff Becomes Easier

When the medical staff is working in the same setting for a long time, they become accustomed to the medical jargon, terminologies, and abbreviations. Instead of iterating every condition to the concerned staff, the doctors and nurses usually use abbreviations to inform them about the patient’s condition.

3. Language of Communication

Abbreviations are usually the way doctors and nurses communicate when they are talking about a patient’s condition or the tests they have to perform.

Why Should Patients Be Familiar with Medical Abbreviations?

It’s also essential that the patients and caregivers understand the medical abbreviations used by the physicians or doctors. Here are three reasons why understanding medical abbreviations are crucial:

1. Communication Becomes Easier

One of the most important reasons you should learn abbreviations relevant to your health condition is that it makes it easier for you to understand what the doctor is saying. For example, if the doctor says, “John, we are going to do an ABG test to figure out what’s causing the pain in your lower abdomen.” It’ll be facile for you to understand what he’s talking about if you know what an ABG test is, instead of the other way around.

2. Reduces Chances of Error

Physicians usually go through your medical record before prescribing you any medicine. Abbreviations, as described earlier, are sometimes ambiguous. This happens because whenever you change doctors or go to a different hospital, most of the abbreviations remain the same except for those that might be uncommon and used rarely. That is why the doctor needs to maintain medical records clearly to be understandable.

It is important to note that every clinician may not decipher every medical abbreviation. When the abbreviations in a patient’s medical records are unclear, the clinician must figure out what it means by themselves. It’s a lot easier and will significantly reduce any chances of him making an error if the patient has a sound understanding of his medical history. The patient can correct the doctor if he is confused or makes any wrong assumptions. However, it is easier for people to learn the Patient Better program and communicate with clinicians in a concise and professional manner.

3. Have Clarity on Medical Notes

Understanding medical terminologies and abbreviations come in very handy when you want to read or understand what’s written in your medical records. If the patients or caregivers are aware of the meaning of the abbreviations, then they can take precautions and learn more about their medical conditions through relevant resources.

How to decipher medical abbreviations:

  1. Whenever a doctor uses a word that you might not be familiar with during your interaction, ask them what it means. The chances are that they might be using more than one medical jargon and abbreviation at a time.
  2. After finding out the meaning, you can let them know what you understood by explaining it.
  3. An effortless way to find out more about the abbreviation is to search about it on the Internet. You can then share this information with your physician and ask them for their input.

Click here to view your prescription master list (brought to you today from ResourcePharm)

Final Words

Understanding medical abbreviations is essential for patients to communicate easily with their doctors. As we addressed in Patient Better’s article 4.4 How to Research Smart, physicians welcome questions regarding any words, phrases, or abbreviations that might need clarity during an interaction. It sets the standard that their practice has a healthy and inclusive environment for their patients. Also, it’s encouraged that people take a proactive approach to learning how to govern their care more efficiently and effectively- thus becoming an expert health advocate.

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About Patient Better

Patient Better is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization developed to help offset some of the new challenges facing patients and their family-member caregivers in navigating throughout the healthcare industry. Our mission is to provide affordable health management knowledge and equip people with unique, lifelong skills to independently manage care efficiently and effectively.

If you want to learn more about how you can become an expert health advocate (for in-person and virtual medical appointments) visit patientbetter.com.

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