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I'm not sure if you mean whether it is important that the patient understand medical terminology or whether you meant that it is important to the patient that the doctor understand medical terminology. The latter kind of understanding is important because unless a doctor understands medical terminology s/he is unlikely to know how to treat a patient successfully.
I'm not sure whether it is crucial that a patient understand medical terminology, but I have found it useful myself to do so, especially when I have had serious medical problems. Knowing the name of the problem allows a person to look it up on the internet and learn more about methods of treatment, which can often be reassuring.
Of course it is important for a patient to understand as much medical terminology as possible. Doctors often speak in medical jargon simply because it is natural for them. The more medical terminology that you understand, the better chance you have of understanding what a doctor is saying and/or having enough understanding to know what questions to ask about things that you missed.
I don't necessarily think it is important for a patient to understand medical terminology, which is often blinding in terms of its complexity. What is needed is an intermediary such as a nurse who is skilled at explaining the medical-babble that doctors come out with. I have always found that nurses are far more helpful in terms of explaining what is really going on and describing the condition in terms that I can understand.
I do not think that it is necessary for patients to understand medical terminology. This fact is proven by the term "layman." Layman's terms are synonyms for the (typically) long and unpronounceable words doctors use to define and describe conditions.
If a person does not understand what a doctor is talking about, it is their responsibility (the patient's) to ask questions. If the questions are not asked, the doctor assumes that the patient understands what is being said and does not feel the need to explain further.
There are a multitude of variables involved. Some patients are willing to ask for clarification if they don't understand a doctor's medical explanation; some are willing to demand it if necessary; some won't ask at all or won't admit to not understanding what they are told. However, patients have to be responsible for comprehending as much as they can about their medical conditions and the treatments being implemented. Since doctors aren't mind-readers, this means individual patients have to find methods that work for them to allow them to come to an understanding of what is being communicated.
I think one of the best practices many patients could adopt would be to find someone to go to appointments with them. Two pairs of ears will hear more completely than one; the "non-patient" might even be able to take notes for later reference and/or follow-up research.
This question can be answered from the level of understanding. Understanding is important in all fields. However, when it comes to medicine understanding, it can be heightened for the simple reason that you are dealing with bodies.
Understanding should be a given when it comes to those in the medical profession, and it is always a good thing for non-medical people to know as much as possible. An intelligent person should be able to follow the logic of any doctor. This can give peace of mind.
Looking up information on the Internet about an illness and seeing that the treatment for it is what is recommended may be reassuring, but serves little other purpose. If the ailment is one that has a name only a doctor can understand rest assured that you need attention from a medical specialist and can do little to solve the problem on your own.
You could in any case ask the doctor what the medical terminology actually means for the reference information that you want to gather.
Patient education is needed so that patients can be proactive in ensuring that they are receiving adequate care. With the internet, there are so many resources out there for patients to be informed about their health. However, the patient can only understand or do so much. Medical professionals certainly should take the time to explain the terminology and conditions in such a way that the average person can understand.
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