Bimbo Banter

The Jargon-Free Speech Movement

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  • April 16, 2015
  • by Emily Turner

04 16 15 jargon

As I was moved from my L&D (that’s labor and delivery for those of you not versed in the healthcare jargon) suite to my postpartum room, a million thoughts were running through my mind. “Will I be a good mom?”, “Why wouldn’t my baby latch-on like he was supposed to?”, “Why do I still look pregnant?”, “I’ve never been this tired in my entire life.” (just wait a few more days, Mom). However, I trusted the professionals around me to guide me through the process.

The miracle of childbirth is just that, a miracle. For first time moms, it is also an overwhelming journey filled with anxiety and emotions. I was naïve enough to think that once I gave birth to the baby, things would naturally fall into place…and I was comforted by the fact that I would spend the next two days in the expert care of postpartum nurses.

The postpartum recovery time should be a chance to recover and bond with your baby. It should not be a time of confusion and added stress for the new mom. Unfortunately, I experienced much more of the latter upon the birth of my son.

Good communication was the element missing from the hospital staff. What is good communication, and why is it necessary for doctors, nurses and hospital employees?

Until the birth of my son, I had no idea what a bilirubin test was. (I must have missed that page in What to Expect When You’re Expecting.) However, when my nurses referred to it as a “bili,” I was completely lost and my stress levels shot up a notch.

Another example of jargon is the acronym for labor and delivery, or L&D as everyone at the hospital affectionately called it. While the phrase L&D should typically be self-explanatory, I can tell you that it’s not for a woman in the throes of labor herself.

Unfortunately, I left the hospital feeling confused and a little angry about my experience.

There are some very simple solutions to avoiding these communication blunders:

  1. Don’t use jargon. We’re all guilty of this, but it is particularly important if you’re in the health care field to take time to spell out or explain the process or procedure you’re describing.
  2. Have written guidelines. I realize that nurses are busy, but an easy solution is to hand out some written guidelines for key hospital procedures (ie: check out, nursery policy, types of testing, etc.). We could have avoided many headaches if we had been given some guidelines and knew what to expect.

My advice to doctors and nurses is to slow down and help your patients understand what is going on and what to expect. Avoid using technical jargon in order to ensure that you’re communicating effectively. I realize that your number one priority is patient safety and care; however, making communication a priority will help you come across like the professional you are. If you do this, I promise your patients will not only leave feeling good about their care, they will tell their friends. And I promise that a word-of-mouth recommendation will go a LONG way with friends who are considering your hospital.

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