Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Pitfalls in Medical Terminology

Back in 2008, I posted a list of medical terms that are easily confused, such as ileum (part of small intestine), and ilium (a pelvic bone). Medical transcriptionists and healthcare workers who input chart data (i.e., just about everybody), should be aware of medical term-pairs that have nearly the same orthography, are often pronounced identically, and have completely different meanings. These words are not picked up by spell checkers (because they are not misspelled). You can avoid such errors if you know what to look for.

Since 2008, there have been many updates to the list:
acinic, actinic
anisakiasis, anisokaryosis
aptotic, apoptotic
arboreal, aboriginal
arteritis, arthritis
auxilliary, axillary
brachial, brachium, branchial
callous, callus
causality, casualty
chlorpropamide, chlorpromazine
chondroid, chordoid
chondroma, chordoma
chorionic, chronic
cingula, singular
coitus, colitis
colic, colonic
colitis, coitus
costal, coastal
cryptogam, cryptogram
cygnet, signet
decease, disease
deceased, desist
digitate, digitize
dioecious, deciduous
diploic, diploid
disc, disk
disease, decease
diseased, deceased
dyskaryosis, dyskeratosis
dysphasia, dysphagia
ectatic, ecstatic
endochondral, enchondral (these are synonyms)
engram, n-gram, ngram
epistasis, epistaxis, epitaxis (the last is a misspelling of the second)
exxon, exon
facial, fascial
facies, faeces
fetal, fatal
firearm, forearm
foreword, forward
hallux, helicis
helicis, hallux
herpetic, herpangina
hydatid, hydatidiform
ileitis, iliitis
ileum, ilium
insular, insulin
intercostal, intercoastal
intubation, incubation
isotope, isotrope
kerasin, kerosene, keratin
keratotic, keratinic, actinic
keratinocytic, keratinolytic
keratosis, ketosis
lipoma, lymphoma
lumbar, lumber
malleolus, malleus
metachronous, metacrinus
milia, milium
miotic, mitotic, meiotic
mitosis, meiosis, myosis, myiasis
monogenic, monogenetic, and Monogenetic (last, related to class Monogenea)
mucous, mucus
myelofibrosis, myofibrosis
myofibroma, myelofibroma
neuroplastic, neoplastic
nucleus, nucleolus
oncocyte, onychocyte
oncology, ontology, ontogeny
organic, organoid
palatal, palatial
paleodontology, paleontology
palette, palate
palpation, palpitation
parasite, pericyte
parental, parenteral
pathogen, parthenogen
pathogenesis, parthenogenesis
pathogenic, pathogenetic (these two are synonyms)
penal, penile, pineal, panel
penicillamine, penicillin
perineal, peroneal, perianal
pleiotropic, pleiotrophic, pleiotypic (the first two are synonyms)
plural, pleural
porphyria, porphyruria
proptosis, ptosis
prostrate, prostate
protuberant, protruberant (the second term is simply a common misspelling)
quinine, quinidine
rachischisis, rachitis, rachischitic, rachitic
radial, radical
relics, relicts
reticle, reticule, radical
rett, ret
rosacea, rosea
semantic, somatic
serous, serious
silicon, silicone
singleton, singultus
sinusitis, synositis
somatic, semantic
sonography, stenography
taenia, tinea
takoma, trachoma
thecoma, thekeoma
torsion, distortion
trachoma, trachea
trichina, trachoma, trichura
trichinosis, trichosis, trichuriasis
trichrome, trichome
trochlear, tracheal
troglobite, troglodyte, trilobite
tuberous sclerosis, tuberculosis
tunicate, tourniquet
urethral, ureteral
vagitis, vaginitis
venous, venus
If you know the meaning of half of the terms in this list, you have a good grasp of medical terminology; but please don't settle for half measures. Physicians, nurses, chart reviewers, and medical transcriptionists should be aware of the correct meaning of each alternate word in these listed pairs.

In June, 2014, my book, entitled Rare Diseases and Orphan Drugs: Keys to Understanding and Treating the Common Diseases was published by Elsevier. The book builds the argument that our best chance of curing the common diseases will come from studying and curing the rare diseases.

I urge you to read more about my book. There's a generous preview of the book at the Google Books site. If you like the book, please request your librarian to purchase a copy of this book for your library or reading room.

- Jules J. Berman, Ph.D., M.D. tags: common disease, orphan disease, orphan drugs, rare disease, medical terminology, medical errors, malaprop, malapropism, definition, confusing terms, confused medical terms, medical definitions, medical transcription, nomenclature, terminology, transcription errors, transcription mistakes, EMR, EHR, electronic medical record, electronic chart, electronic health record, avoidable errors, avoidable mistakes, sources of confusion, sources of error, common mistakes, common sources of confusion