Liver language: Lifting the fog

February 10, 2020

‘Acute’, ‘chronic’, ‘hepatocytes’: words you may have heard but were too afraid to ask

Healthcare workers sometimes use highly specialised terms that refer to a person’s body or health condition, to the confusion of the listener if they can’t completely grasp what is said.

Often these specialised terms, commonly referred to as medical jargon, are technical and not easily understood. To help, Hepatitis Victoria/LiverWELL® has created a list of words you may hear when talking with health specialists about your liver, along with a clear explanation of their meaning.

“Coping with a diagnosis of liver disease and managing the ongoing impact of a condition is in itself very challenging,” said Melanie Eagle, Chief Executive Officer of Hepatitis Victoria.

“What we need is clarity and understanding around the terms we hear when specialist talk about our health, a point that is particularly important for people who don’t have English as a first language,” she said.

The glossary contains words people might have heard but are not 100 percent sure about, words such as ‘hepatoma’ (cancer of the main liver cells), jaundice (yellowing of the skin), and fibrosis (mild to moderate scarring of the liver).

Meg Perrier is both a registered nurse and one of our Community Mobilisation Project Officers. She helped create the glossary to broaden awareness about liver health and the common language used.

“The way health professionals communicate can help or hinder access to care, so it is vital we are conscious of the language we are using, and how it may be interpreted” she said.

“There is nothing wrong about not knowing the exact meaning of a particular health term, however, the use of technical jargon can be particularly isolating for the listener.

“Our glossary is a good start if you have a question and we will be adding to the list as terms or words are suggested to us for explanation,” she added.

Read the full list


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