by Lara Killian and Margo Coletti
AMA Journal of Ethics, March 2017, Vol. 19, Nr. 3: 296-303
Shared decision making (SDM), a collaborative process whereby patients and professionals make health care decisions together, is a cornerstone of ethical patient care. The patient-clinician communication necessary to achieve SDM depends on many factors, not the least of which is a shared language (sometimes with the aid of a medical interpreter). However, even when a patient and clinician are speaking the same mother tongue, the use of medical jargon can pose a large and unnecessary barrier. This article discusses how health care professionals can use “universal health literacy precautions” as a legal, practical, and ethical means to enhance SDM and improve health care outcomes.