Intended for healthcare professionals

Letters Presenting complaint: language that disempowers patients

The language we use causes doctors stress too

BMJ 2022; 377 doi: (Published 25 May 2022) Cite this as: BMJ 2022;377:o1266
  1. Richard Bircher, general practitioner
  1. Stalybridge, UK
  1. richard.bircher{at}

Cox and Fritz emphasise how medical language has repeatedly elevated the status of the clinician at the expense of the patient.1 Our profession hardly notices when we accuse, dismiss, or belittle people who do not conform to how we think a “good patient should be.” But I wonder if this adds to our own stress?

Patients are …

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