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Marcin
Medical vocabulary - should it be international or language specific?

I remember that many years ago, most of medical documents in my country were written in Latin. At least diagnoses and prescriptions were in that language. The medical students learn this language nowadays too (though on a very basic level). The current recomendation is that everything should be written in Polish, so that the Patients can understand it. But in practice we can see everything now: Latin, Polish, English, acronyms taken from all of these languages. Sometimes two or three languages in one sentence or nothing but the international number of the disease. This is hard to understand not only for patients but for the doctors as well.

And here are the questions I'd like to ask:

1) Do you know what language is used in medical documents in your country?
2) Do you think that everything should be written in the official language of the country only? Note that e.g. English medical vocabulary is based mainly on Latin (except for popular words like body part's names) but there are languages which have their own names for almost everything.
3) Or maybe in the age of globalization and migration of people would be better to choose one language as the international standard?

Feb 26, 2018 5:05 PM
Comments · 11

Documents given to patients are written in Serbian. Usually there is a diagnosis written in Latin and some medical terminology is taken from Latin. So it is a mixture of Serbian and Latin. Or maybe we can think of this Latin as loanwords. I haven't seen any English from a Serbian doctor ever. It wouldn't serve the purpose. Patients don't have to speak English and doctors don't have to speak English either. Instructions for use of medications have to be in Serbian completely.

Example: Myocardial infarction is in Serbian "infarkt miokarda", so pretty much the same. Infarction comes from Latin, myocard comes from Greek. This kind of words tend to be international. I've never really thought of them as English words, but frankly I don't know if they may have reached all of us through English. I assume not because I think we used them before English was the world language. And our older doctors who don't know any English use them as well.

Indeed bypass (bajpas) is used in Serbian, but again it's just a loanword, it's not like doctors write their diagnoses in English.

February 26, 2018
It would be not all that difficult as few decades ago if only clinicians may well use software to translate professional terms into dialects with automatic translation.  Chart can keep both versions to make it knowledgeable for the professionals and clearly understandable to the amateur. 
March 9, 2018
Also in Serbian there is a colloquial everyday expression "srčani udar," similar to English "heart attack."  "Infarkt miokarda" is a more fancy one.
February 27, 2018
Probably writing in local languages is easy to understand by non-professionals but it will be harder for clinicians to communicate with international practitioners if the chart is not well recorded in international language, mostly English. I personally believe that doctors do not necessarily use English to record patients' conditions, though clinicians surely have to learn English medical terms well to communicate with overseas clinicians in order to enhance their profession. English is an international language used in most of the international conference. If a doctor wishes to extend their knowledge of medicine, they must learn English to a degree so as to convey their ideas with overseas practitioners and surely medical vocabulary is a necessity to impart their knowledge in the professional field. 

In addition, for patient's sake to understand the prescription by the doctors, many parts of the chart have been well compiled in local language and it is not so complicated to proceed as long as the standard can be discussed and well stipulated.  Localizing chart in a local language with professional terms annotation may be a good method of keeping both sides happy. 
February 26, 2018
In Iran, English is used in almost every medical doc. but it is mostly handwritten in prescriptions and that makes problems for pharmacies to read!
February 26, 2018
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Marcin
Language Skills
English, German, Italian, Other, Polish, Russian, Spanish
Learning Language
English, Spanish