Saturday, July 24, 2010

What is your doctor saying about you?

What is your doctor saying about you?

We’ve all seen our doctors scribbling in our charts after the exam. Now new research is exploring whether it’s a good idea to let a patient read the doctor’s notes, reports the Informed Patient column in Wall Street Journal.

A study currently under way, called the OpenNotes project, is looking at what happens when doctors’ notes become available for a patient to read, usually on electronic medical records. In a report on the early stages of the study, published Tuesday in the Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers say that inviting patients to review the records can improve patient understanding of their health and get them to stick to their treatment regimens more closely.

But researchers also point to possible downsides: Patients may panic if their doctor speculates in writing about cancer or heart disease, leading to a flood of follow-up calls and e-mails. And doctors say they worry that some medical terms can be taken the wrong way by patients. For instance, the phrase “the patient appears SOB” refers to shortness of breath, not a derogatory designation. And OD is short for oculus dexter, or right eye, not for overdose.

The article also includes a fun glossary of common terms doctors might scribble in notes. Among others, there’s “NERD” for “no evidence of recurrent disease,” and “Shotty,” which is shorthand for “mildly enlarged lymph nodes.”


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