Plain Language in the Medical Field

Plain language is typically used for instruction, teaching, or presenting information.  In the medical field professionals are required to provide their patients with information regarding their health.  This is where plain language is most useful; it facilitates efficient communication between provider and patient.

Navigating and understanding healthcare today can be confusing and frustrating even for those familiar with the system. Imagine how it might feel for someone who isn’t familiar with the system and who is being expected to interpret important information regarding medical procedures or decisions when they are ill.  Also consider patients with limited literacy skills, overcomplicated medical jargon would surely not be appropriate for them. Times like this are when comprehension is crucial.  Using plain language for patient instruction just makes sense.

It’s also important to note that plain language use for written works is essential, but its use for verbal instructions is also preferred.  In the medical profession I feel we get so used to using terminology among our peers and sometimes forget that our audience may have little or no exposure to medical terms.  The use of plain language is a way to bridge the gap between medical professionals and patients and ensure patients receive and comprehend information regarding their health and well being.

~Diana Schwartz