‘Palpitations’ instead of ‘palpitations’. ‘Through the drip’ instead of ‘intravenously’. Or ‘ECG’ instead of ‘ECG’. Doctors and nurses can make patients’ lives easier by simplifying their language, the Alrijne Hospital wants to convey.
The hospital in South Holland has several projects underway to alert healthcare staff to patients’ low literacy. Medical specialists receive training to learn how to deal with this. The hospital is currently conducting a campaign to encourage doctors and nurses to communicate as simply as possible. In photos, doctors and nurses give examples of words they can replace, such as gastroenterologist Sunje Abraham (‘From now on I say fluid in the abdominal cavity instead of ascites’) and orthopedic surgeon Marjolein Morssinkhof (‘From now on I say keyhole surgery instead of of arthroscopy’).
According to a hospital spokesperson, the doctors and nurses have provided examples from their own practice. ‘You often don’t realize that you are using jargon. Then your language is not difficult for you. Adjusting your language can be a simple first step. This is not only good for patients with low literacy, but also for people who are tired, tense or ill.’