Radiologists, Is Your Writing Hurting Your Reads?

Solid writing skills are fundamental across a variety of industries. The ability to seamlessly communicate through the written word is essential to many sectors of business.

In the past, medicine was the exception. Doctors and hospital staff could use fragmented medical jargon to communicate with other healthcare professionals about shared cases. However, with the newfound ability to access results through electronic medical records, patients can receive radiology reports at the same time as their primary care provider. What does this mean for doctors everywhere? It’s time to brush up on those writing skills.

Not only is there a push to make radiology reports more clear and concise for the patients reading them, there is also a need for increased sensitivity training for the doctors writing them. In the past, reports were private communications between members of a care team. Due to technology, transparency in healthcare is increasing and patients are automatically becoming a part of these initial conversations. To adjust to this change, many radiologists are attending writing classes to relearn the art of crafting medical reports.

In these workshops doctors are taught to adhere to brevity, avoid unnecessary verbiage, cut dramatic language, choose words carefully, and evade ambiguity in an effort to keep written results straightforward. Abiding by these suggestions gives receiving doctors and patients alike a clear understanding of the imaging results. Additionally, transparent reports can avoid unnecessary anxieties, caused by mere lack of understanding, on the side of the patient.

Radiologists are also being taught sensitivity when it comes to word choice. In 2013, for example, members at Mount Sinai Beth Israel were encouraged to eliminate “gross” and “grossly” from reports due to the negative connotations associated with these words. While most medical staff complied with this request, some doctors could not find suitable synonyms and preferred to keep their written findings “precise”, despite the unfavorable undertones of these selections.

It is a new age in medicine, and that requires an adjustment on everyone’s parts. Bedside manner is extending to radiology reports and doctors need to adjust their written etiquette.

How is your organization accommodating to this change? Let us know in the comment section below.

Catherine Slotnick, Marketing Manager

About Catherine Slotnick

Catherine Slotnick is a passionate healthcare marketer with a deep interest in the latest & greatest in the Health IT space. As Ambra Health's Director of Marketing, Catherine primarily focuses on creating and sharing thought leadership content in the radiology and informatics space. Catherine graduated from the University of Virginia with a BA in Psychology & Art History. When she's not writing, she enjoys cooking and petting dogs that aren't hers.

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