mellicious: pink manicure (nautilus)
[personal profile] mellicious
calcaneus
the largest of the tarsal bones; it forms the heel and articulates with the cuboid anteriorly and the talus above.

I love how the medical dictionary doesn't just define it as "the heel" - no, it's the bone that forms the heel. Whatever. Medical terminology is like a foreign language, really. And I suspect that medical coding, some of the time at least, is just being the doctor-to-insurance-company translator. The funny thing is that most doctors mostly know how to translate it all into English since they have to, to be able to to deal with patients. Medical terminology is just this little private doctor-to-doctor language. I know there's reasons for that but it still gets a little comical.

Date: 2009-05-02 02:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] columbina.livejournal.com
It's all about precision. Consider the modest example you gave. The "heel" is a location on the foot, and in the region called the "heel" there is skin and nerves and bone and blood vessels and all that jazz ... including the bone and joint that gives the heel its distinctive shape.

The object of this kind of language is to narrow down diagnoses by progressive stages. "My heel hurts" is what the patient says, and it's a good starting point, but that's all it is. Does it hurt because of some edema there (skin) or varicose blood vessels, or a muscle pull, or a fracture in the bone? Once the doctor finds that out, it's to his advantage to communicate that in his notes (for his own memory) or to other doctors. It wastes less time. If you say that there was a fracture in the calcaneus, you don't need to say the "patient reported heel hurts" part, because that's implied.

To use a parallel example, it does me little good to say to another developer, "my code didn't work." He will want to know why, and depending on how much he wants to know, there are progressive ways to narrow it down - general area of the code, specific subroutine, so on in. The other day I posted a remark about how SQL had no string aggregation functions. That made perfect sense as is to anyone else who works with SQL a lot; it's all that's needed, the rest of the story is implied. Everyone else, of course, needed a ton of explanation.

Date: 2009-05-02 04:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] anjea.livejournal.com
You said it better than I could. :D The terminology is necessary for precise and accurate description.

Date: 2009-05-02 09:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mellificent.livejournal.com
Oh, I know all that about precision (that's what I meant about "reasons for all that") - but that still doesn't keep it from being funny sometimes.

Date: 2009-05-08 06:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mellificent.livejournal.com
For the record, the calcaneus was not on the test, but the olecranon (the sort-of-corresponding outcropping on the arm, the part of the ulna that forms the elbow) was. The actual wording of the (multiple-choice) question?

Q: The olecranon is:
A: the elbow

So much for precision.
Edited Date: 2009-05-08 06:46 am (UTC)

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