Dr Mark HassedA while ago I visited and ophthalmologist (eye doctor) for some treatment.

During the examination we were talking about some things and he said: “You have presbyopia.”

I nodded and said “Aha! I thought so.”

In truth I had no idea what he was saying but I did not want to appear stupid. Later, at home, I googled it.

When we are consulting with patients how often do we use technical terms and just expect that the patient knows what we're talking about?

Terms like OPG, bitewing, periapical, periodontitis, root filling, crown (“Is that the same as a cap?” is a common question from patients), bridge, caries, amalgam (“Are those the white fillings?”), endodontist, orthodontist (“I went to the orthodontist to get my wisdom teeth out.”), composite… The list goes on.

Just because we know what amalgam is don't assume patients do.

Try listening closely to what you say to patients and eliminate the jargon. Or, if you say some jargon then immediately explain what it is:

“Amalgam — the silver fillings.”

Never assume that patients know what you are saying.


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