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Midwives advised on language to use when treating patients

Tuesday 20th February 2018
Nurses and midwives have been issued with new guidance on the most appropriate type of language to use when treating maternity patients.
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New guidance has been issued for nurses and midwives on the language they should be using when communicating with their patients as part of their commitment to providing the best possible standard of care.

Maternal health experts have published advice for healthcare professionals in the British Medical Journal that recommends avoiding use of impersonal words like 'she' or 'my woman' when dealing with an expectant mother, using her name instead.

The new guide was compiled following research via the #MatExp Facebook group, where members were asked how the language used in maternity care settings could have been different to improve their overall experience.

For example, the guidance also suggests avoiding sterile sounding language such as 'delivered' in place of 'gave birth', while a woman's history should be referred to as 'medically complex' rather than 'poor' or 'high risk'.

These recommendations are to ensure that women feel as comfortable and well-cared for as possible while they are giving birth and immediately afterwards in order to make the experience as positive as possible for them.

Overall, maternal health experts believe the language used when communicating with mothers needs to be more respectful and inclusive, as well as less intimidating, and that vague and verbose terms should be avoided at all times.

If something sounds ambiguous, there is a risk that a patient may panic unnecessarily, which isn't good for her or her baby.

Commenting on the new guidance, Gill Walton, chief executive officer of the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), said: "The RCM would expect all health professionals to be aware of the need to use the appropriate language relevant to the people they are caring for, so that women and their families understand what is happening and understand what is being communicated, so they can, with the support of the midwife, make the right decisions about their care."

Written by James Puckle

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