Medical terms used by physicians often confuse patients, study suggests

A new study in JAMA suggests patients may be misinterpreting medical terms used by physicians, affecting health outcomes.

Despite physicians acknowledging medical jargon should be avoided, healthcare practitioners still frequently use it when talking with patients. 

The findings showed that the 215 respondents had a varied understanding of medical jargon phrases. For instance, 96 percent knew that negative cancer screening results meant they didn't have cancer but 67 percent knew that positive lymph nodes meant the cancer had spread. And while 80 percent knew that an unremarkable chest radiography was good news, only 21 percent understood that a clinician saying their radiography was impressive was generally bad news. 

As a result, the findings show that common medical phrases can often be interpreted as the opposite of what they mean. 

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