Rash on extensor surfaces of a childBMJ 2018; 360 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.j5547 (Published 11 January 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;360:j5547
All rapid responses
Someone once told one of us that Dermatologists simply named conditions by describing them, usually in Latin, and if that was not confusing enough added the name or names of people who first reported them.
"What are these red lumps on my legs, doctor? "
The authors of this education article seem not to have read Annette McKinnon's landmark essay 'Patients need access to information' - BMJ January 5 2018 - warning of doctor's condescending use of unfathomable technical medical terms in addition to the high price of purchasing published text as a barrier for patients getting information. They seem to have fallen into the trap of choosing high-sounding eponyms as the preferred term over the English term i.e. 'Gianotti-Crosti syndrome' over 'Infantile papular acrodermatitis'.
Things are made worse by allusion to 'Koebner’s phenomenon' which 'can arise in the early stage of the rash' without any definition of this as if suddenly we (those seeking education) are fully aware of this phenomenon.
This definition might help those like us who had forgotten:
(Preferred term first plus synonyms separated by semi-colons): 'Isomorphic response; Köbner phenomenon; Kobner phenomenon; Koebner phenomenon; Koebner's phenomenon is an isomorphic reaction seen in response to trauma in previously uninvolved sites of patients with skin diseases including psoriasis and lichen planus, typically with lesions in a linear pattern at sites of scratching or a scar.'
Actually 'Isomorhic response' can also occur by exposure to non physical agents such as 'molluscum contagiosum, warts and ivy.
We are then further confused by the statement: 'however excoriations are commonly not seen in Gianotti-Crosti syndrome'! But Koebner’s phenomenon exhibits linear scratch marks. Excoriations are scratch marks. So are they commonly seen or not?
In communicating with physicians or patients we must choose straightforward understandable English terms over eponyms and Latin. Physicians have a long way to change their ways and de-mystify medical-speak and eliminate gobbledegook.
Competing interests: We are working on an application to keep patients up-to-date in regard to their medication and their conditions.