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Brian Goldman, MD, Doctors' Secret Language

Show 1004: Doctors' Secret Language

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Have you ever wondered about the big words your doctor uses? Physicians have a language all their own. Not only do they have specialized technical terminology, but they also have their own slang.

Find out about the argot, jargon and slang that abounds in hospital settings. What does their slang tell us about doctors’ attitudes? How does it affect patient safety? Those questions lead us to ask what patients should know about doctors’ secret language.

We discuss the importance of quick communication of information and emotion, and the disadvantages of leaving patients completely out of the loop. We also explore the concept of Open Notes, a movement to have patients access their doctors’ clinic notes. Although doctors may initially be reluctant to try this, research has shown that patients can detect medication errors, remind their doctors about next steps and become truly engaged in their own health care. The recent study we mentioned was published in The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety, August, 2015.

This Week’s Guest:

Brian Goldman, MD, is an emergency physician at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He is host of the radio show “White Coat, Black Art” on CBC Radio One.

Dr. Goldman is an outspoken medical journalist, whose previous book was The Night Shift: Real Life in the Heart of the ER. His new book is The Secret Language of Doctors: Cracking the Code of Hospital Slang.

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