Aim and Methods To assess the way different terms used to describe a fracture affect the understanding a patient has of that fracture. The perceived severity of the injury and how the patient expects to be treated were also recorded with a view to optimising patient understanding.
Results There was a very significant difference between what doctors can potentially say and what the patient ultimately understood about the consultation. This could have a direct effect on the management the patient expects from the initial description and diagnosis.
Conclusions It is important that doctors in the emergency department use terminology that is understood by the patient, as well as emphasising the potential seriousness of the injury. It is possibly better therefore to use informed lay terminology such as ‘a break in a bone’ rather than more formal vocabulary such ‘a fracture’ when discussing the diagnosis and treatment options.
- Clinical assessment, education
- management, emergency department management
- mental health, management
- musculo-skeletal, fractures and dislocations
- Accepted 25 June 2010
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Competing interests None
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.