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Do you take ascorbic acid or Vitamin C? What chemicals do you swallow daily?


Jargon, which I’ve written about several times before, comes in many varieties. Yesterday’s physical exam was a real lesson about how NOT to use jargon we writers can learn from.

When the nurse updated my medical information before the exam, he looked at information from my visit nine months ago and asked questions like, “Are you still taking ascorbic acid? How about the Loratadine?” (He named a number of other supplements and over-the-counter stuff I swallow daily. Everything from Vitamin D to HGH supplements were fair game. No, I don’t take HGH supplements, but that would have been more understandable to me than another he did ask about — omeprazole, the medical ingredient in Prilosec.)

Anyway, you already get the point, right? You and I know “ascorbic acid” as Vitamin C. You may or may not know that “Loratadine” is the ingredient in Claritin antihistamine. I actually had to think a minute to get what he was asking about. As I puzzled, he immediately clarified it by using the terms “Vitamin C” and “Claritin.”

Medical people, whether doctors, nurses, or whoever, use medical terminology and jargon all day long. It may not even occur to them that a seemingly educated (me) person there as a patient wouldn’t instantly recognize their jargon.

In the interest of happy doctor/patient relationships and clear communications, I recommend less jargon. As writers, we need to keep the same perspective in our writing.