Whether you're a trainee GP, a nursing student, a social care worker, or a doctor's receptionist, if you work in an environment where a basic comprehension of medical terms is required, it's important that you understand medical terminology.
In any of these roles, you may find yourself responding to an emergency situation, making a 999 call and having to administer life-saving care, such as CPR or an epipen injection. When you're dealing with emergency responders, it can help to have an understanding of medical terms.
But it's also likely to be important in your day-to-day duties, when measuring medication doses for care home residents or as a receptionist responding to triage information from more senior medical staff.
The purpose of medical terminology is to create a standardised language for medical professionals. This language helps medical staff communicate more efficiently and makes documentation easier. This enables staff to save time by ensuring they don’t have to explain complex medical condition in plain English and can focus on the treatment of patients.
Another purpose of Medical Terminology is that it can help to reduce errors from poor communication or poor documentation this ensures staff can quickly and accurately review a patient’s medical history and begin diagnosing and treating them whilst ensuring staff are aware of any allergies the patient may have.
Medical terminology can look and sound complex, but it's important to be able to break words down and understand their roots, prefixes and suffixes to prevent any misunderstandings or errors.
Mistakes and misunderstandings can be life-threatening, that is the importance of medical terminology. According to research from the University of Manchester in 2018, 237 million medical errors are made across the NHS each year, contributing to between 1,700 and 22,303 deaths on an annual basis.
Of these errors, 71 per cent occur in primary care settings. Multiple factors can be behind these mistakes, including overstretched staff, but having a sound understanding of medical terms could be key to preventing them.
What's more, the financial cost of medical errors can come in anywhere between £60 and £6 million. Every healthcare worker therefore has a part to play in ensuring they understand medical terms so as not to cost the NHS much-needed cash.