Misunderstandings from medical notes cause upset patients, physicians say

Physicians are reporting that patients have expressed being hurt by the medical notes they have read about their visits, according to a Sept. 30 report by The New York Times.

Six things to know:

  1. Physicians, healthcare professionals and patients shared on Twitter their experiences with misunderstandings surrounding patients reading their medical notes. 

  2. One patient's colonoscopy report referenced a "time out." The patient called her physician upset, claiming to have been very well behaved during the procedure. The patients didn't know the term referenced a standard safety step physicians take before every surgery or medical procedure.

  3. Researchers from Seattle-based University of Washington and Boston-based Harvard Medical School released a report on how to use supportive language and be conscious of how a patient might perceive their medical notes.

  4. In one example, physicians may want to spell out "OD," which is an abbreviation for the Latin term "oculus dexter," meaning "the right eye," the Times reported.

  5. In the Twitter thread, healthcare professionals added medical jargon that can be wrongly perceived by patients and may have led to upset patients, the Times reported. The phrase "patient is a poor historian," refers to a patient when they have trouble remembering details of their medical history.

  6. One Twitter user said a patient was upset about the phrase "denies recreational drug use," because she thought it implied she was lying about substance use, the Times reported. However, the term simply means the patient said they don't use drugs.

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