RECONSIDERING THE ROLE OF LANGUAGE TO IMPROVE THE DOCTOR – PATIENT COMMUNICATION

Cătălin Drăcșineanu

Abstract

It has often been argued that words have both the power to heal and the power to destroy. While doctors and patients alike agree on the importance of an efficient communication, the complex environment of health services, the evolution of demographic features, the shortage of medical staff or the patients’ social background can render the process of communication extremely difficult. Communication failures between doctors and their patients on various topics that range from a regular diagnosis, the message on a consent form or discussions on a terminal disease, for instance, can have terrible adverse events and can potentially make room for medical errors. Furthermore, most conflicts or even legal actions between the patients and their caregivers result from an absence of or inefficient communication. All these aspects call for an increasing role of language in medicine which should eventually lead to a genuine “communication culture” that can ensure the required quality and psychological comfort of a such a challenging endeavor.

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