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Doctors told to use 'plain English', not Latin


Have you ever received a letter from your doctor or physician and not been able to clearly understand its contents? If you have, we’ve got some positive news for you. That’s because the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges is urging doctors to do away with medical jargon in correspondence to patients and use easy to understand terms instead. For example, the academy says the term “twice daily” is much better than the often used Latin abbreviation “bd”, and says patients should ask their local hospital to follow the advice. Oftentimes, hospital doctors write letters directly to a patient’s GP and refer to the patient in the third person. However, this can lead to things being misinterpreted and even the patient being offended. The academy cites the example of a father who was praised for “manfully stepping in” when his wife could not take their daughter to an appointment because she (the wife) was too ill. Doctors are also being asked to try and soften potentially sensitive information and avoid stigmatising words. For example, “You have diabetes,” is better than “You are diabetic.” The initiative is being led by Dr Hugh Rayner, a kidney specialist, who has been writing to patients directly since 2005. He said: “The change may seem small but it has a big effect. “Writing to patients rather than about them changes the relationship between doctor and patient. “It involves them more in their care and leads to all sorts of benefits.”

iSkin App Enables People to Track Moles and Lower Their Skin Cancer Risk


Almost everyone has a mole of some size somewhere on their bodies. Most of the time, we don't pay much attention to them. However, if they change shape and/or colour, we tend to take more notice. That's because abnormal moles can develop into melanoma skin cancer, which is the most dangerous form of the disease, accounting for over 10,000 deaths in the US alone annually. The good news, though, is that if diagnosed and treated early, melanoma is almost always curable. To address the fact that some people don't give their abnormal moles enough attention, the Institut Gustave Roussy in South Paris, France, launched the new iSkin application in May this year. Created by the collective "Ensemble contre le melanome", the app encourages users to take periodic photographs of their moles and skin spots, and essentially create a 'map' to track their development. This map can then be used to monitor the person's skin over time and help identify any potentially dangerous changes. The so-called maps will be safely stored on a web host approved by the government and will go some way to improving doctor-patient relationships. Patients also benefit from the app's geolocation capabilities, which tag the closest dermatologists. Eventually, the team behind the app hopes to develop a a platform for patients and specialists to exchange information so they can interact without having to wait on a waiting list or make an appointment. It should be noted, however, that the iSkin app does not replace a medical diagnosis, and anyone with any skin concerns should seek the advice of a medical professional.