Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The New Language of Medicine

NEJM published a perspective piece where the author briefly describes recent evolution of certain terms within medicine which may resonate with you.

"Patients are no longer patients, but rather “customers” or “consumers.” Doctors and nurses have been transmuted into “providers.” These descriptors have been widely adopted in the media, medical journals, and even on clinical rounds. Yet the terms are not synonymous. The word “patient” comes from patiens, meaning suffering or bearing an affliction. Doctor is derived from docere, meaning to teach, and nurse from nutrire, to nurture. These terms have been used for more than three centuries."

"The words “consumer” and “provider” are reductionist; they ignore the essential psychological, spiritual, and humanistic dimensions of the relationship — the aspects that traditionally made medicine a “calling,” in which altruism overshadowed personal gain."
The terms "providers" and "consumers" do strike me as "health care industry"-centered terms which have served to frame the discussion in a way that is favorable to said industry.  Hopefully, the terms (especially "consumers") don't advance any further in the lexicon and maybe more feedback needs to be given to media sources regarding better terms to use.

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