Identify Medical Jargon Like a Pro

medical jargon

Are you a patient who gets easily confused communicating with health professionals and can’t make sense of what was said in the treatment room? A study published in Health Literacy Research and Practice found that patients often encounter communication gaps with their physicians. This points to the more significant problem of how the medical community and its language can be scary to navigate as a patient, especially when health risk is involved.

Medical jargon can be difficult for patients to understand, leading them to challenges with their medication and complications. Patients may not know what dosage they are taking or even comprehend the diagnosis, itself—all because of medical terms used in conversation between doctors and patients that have significance but are not simply spoken aloud by everyone around us every day.

This article will help you identify medical jargon when it presents itself.  Health management learning contains effective methods for people to determine medical jargon and accommodates a list of commonly used medical jargon by health professional that patients could use in everyday settings.

After reading this article and going through the commonly used medical jargon graph, you are one step closer to becoming an expert health advocate and:

  • Safeguarding yourself from potential oversights
  • Better prepared for emergencies or disasters
  • Protection from unnecessary spending
  • Assurance that you will have the optimal experience throughout your care


Don’t Hesitate to Ask Questions

The core problem here is the communication barrier, as patients fail to understand what their doctors are trying to explain. To bridge this communication gap, it’s crucial to ask questions. If anything your doctor says is unclear due to medical jargon, it’s never a bad idea to help yourself by asking your doctor to de-jargon his or her instructions.

Showing interest in your health tells your health professionals that you care. The more thought-out or researched your question is, the better. Is there a difference between good questions and bad questions? The short answer is no. However, the questions that you do ask will help the person who answers them gauge your interest, motivation to recover, and decision-making capabilities. 

If you are new to the health industry, most likely, you will ask green questions. The higher the level of question you ask, the higher the level of answer you’ll get. And with the answer, there will most likely come a higher level of responsibility to achieve your goal.

Suppose any term, language, or procedure explained by the doctor is unclear or too complicated to understand due to technical jargon. In that case, it is your medical right to request simplification.


Bring Patient Better with You 

Often, patients experience shock and are taken aback due to their unexpected diagnosis or test results. Due to this disturbance, they often lose track of the instructions they receive. It is always good to visit the appointment with an action plan if you need a backup to keep track of what you are told and ensure that everything goes smoothly.

Before the pandemic, patients were encouraged to bring a close friend or a family member for emotional support to help cope with and process the news. Back then, you could ask them to take notes or write down complicated, difficult-to-follow procedures to reduce misinterpretation and jargon.

These days, patients are discouraged from bringing an acquaintance to inquire and engage with the physician. Instead, patients should ask further questions and request clarifications, especially when dealing with medical jargon.

Patient Better is today’s treatment room discussion recorder. Patients who have participated in the program have an already established action plan in place and a documentation system to bring home and review in detail later.


Familiarize Yourself with Common Jargon

To effectively understand medical jargon, it’s essential to understand how it is different from medical terminology. Medical terminology is a universal description of terms and abbreviations used in healthcare practices, whereas medical jargon is not universal and has several meanings. Indeed, it can vary from office to office. Knowing the most common and basic medical jargon is essential to better understand medical practices and healthcare procedures. To help with this purpose, here is a list of commonly used medical jargon in clinical practice. 

Medical Jargon table

Final Thoughts 

Medical jargon might be a difficult barrier to overcome in communication with clinicians. Still, there are several ways around it to help you interpret the medical community’s language more effectively, as we discussed in this post. With better and more efficient communication, patients can communicate, explain, and discern their medical conditions more thoroughly and follow their prescribed procedures in the best way possible.

Last, knowing your audience and who you are bringing your health recordings back home to will make a difference in the quality of your at-home care. That means that, if you apply medical jargon while communicating with health professionals in the same field, you can confidently use jargon and be understood. However, if you’re discussing health with someone without relevant healthcare experience, such as your at-home care team, you should avoid using medical jargon. The point of medical jargon is to help clinicians, patients, and caregivers communicate with one another on a higher level to better prevent, maintain, treat, or recover more efficiently and effectively.

For more information about jargon, please click here. To begin to research common self-management words and terms click here.

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

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