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Clear as mud

Have you ever left a doctor’s appointment or received the results of a test that your medical provider performed but have no idea what any of it meant? You are not alone. The medical terminology that health care providers use was not intended to be the same language this information should be communicated to you.

Now of course with the internet we all can go online and perform our own research and find out what different medical terms and conditions mean, but this can also expose you to a plethora of information that may not be intended for you. I can retell the many times I have had a patient come in and tell me what condition they had and list for me all the diagnosis and complications the internet has provided. If you do not know how to sift through the information online you may cause yourself unnecessary stress and worry.

Now there is nothing wrong with doing a little research of your own. In actuality, it is wise to be well informed about the different medical tests you are receiving and what the various procedures are that are being performed on you. I have had patients come to my office before following surgery and can not quite tell me what procedure they had done or what the surgeon was trying to fix. Your medical provider and their team should take the time to communicate what their plan of care is for you in terms you can understand. This can also be done with the use of handouts and pamphlets.

You may or may not understand everything you read as you begin to research, but maybe you can walk into your next doctor appointment a little better informed so you can ask the right questions. Some medical providers may be taken back by your questions, but know that it is your right as a patient to know what is going on and how your health is being managed. When choosing a medical provider for you, make sure to choose someone who involves you in your care and takes your goals into account.

October is Health Literacy Month. This month is specifically set aside to help individuals learn the importance of understanding what their healthcare needs are and how to obtain the resources they need. Health Literacy Month is also dedicated to provide health organizations the resources needed to make health information accessible, easy to understand, and use.

Having all the right information at your hands is key to being able to make the right decisions for your health.


Health Literacy Online is a tool to help providers develop websites and resources for their office which provide patients with information about their health which they can understand and use.

MyHealthfinder is a resource for individuals with limited health literacy regarding wellness and prevention information.

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