A study of medical terminology pertinent to the educational preparation of the medical secretary and medical assistants
Pascale, Alfred C
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Statement of the Problem The major problem of this investigation was to determine the most commonly dictated medical terms in hospital records and to provide authors, teachers, and test constructors with scientifically determined lists of technical medical data which may be used in the educational preparation of medical assistants. Summary of Procedures 1. Utilizing the records of three hospitals, two case histories for each of 17 medical systems and specialties were selected for analysis each month for a two-year period. 2. Blakiston's New Gould Medical Dictionary was utilized to identify technical medical terms and the Teacher's Word Book of 30,000 Words by Thorndike and Lorge was used to delimit the study. 3. A common list of medical specialties offered in the general hospital field was determined to facilitate classification of the medical terms analyzed. 4. The validity of the sampling method utilized vas verified by comparing the proportion of cases discharged from each medical department in the hospital with the sampled cases analyzed. 5. Although the hospitals utilized were in one state, the writer made an effort to show the geographic representativeness of the study by analyzing the distribution of the medical colleges and hospitals attended by the physicians involved in the study. 6. The medical data were arranged alphabetically in eight lists. Those terms with a frequency of five or more were considered commonly dictated words and were listed in rank order according to frequency. 7. A series of tables were constructed for the purpose of guiding teachers and authors in determining the extent of practice that may be devoted to the common technical data reported in the study. Summary of Findings 1. The sampling method employed produced 816 case histories dictated by 289 physicians and represented 17 specialized fields of medicine. 2. The case histories analyzed contained 325,061 running words which included 41,798 medical terms, 23,528 medical phrases, 4,065 medical abbreviations, 1,064 weights and measures, 1,539 medical diseases and operations, and the medical terms contained 19,139 prefixes and 41,258 suffixes. 3. The following medical terminology had a frequency of occurrence of five or more in the case histories analyzed and were considered commonly dictated in medical practice: (1) 1,746 medical terms, (2) 973 medical phrases, (3) 289 medical abbreviations, (4) 15 weights and measures, (5) 51 medical diseases and operations, and (6) 77 prefixes and 80 suffixes. 4. Neurologists dictated the largest number of technical medical terms in each case history, 95, and psychiatrists dictated the largest number of running words in each case history, 1,057. 5. The percentage of technical medical terms in the 325,061 running words was 14.13 per cent. 6. The 289 physicians involved in the study (a) have attended 39 of the 78 medical colleges in the United States and 32 medical colleges in 17 foreign countries, (b) have completed their internship and residency training in 135 hospitals in 22 states, the District of Columbia, and Canada, and (c) have had 4,205 collective years of active medical practice. Conclusions and Recommendations 1. The common medical vocabulary utilized by physicians is difficult and extensive. 2. The seven types of common technical medical data reported in the study should be considered an essential part of the medical vocabulary of every medical assistant. 3. Prospective medical assistants should be taught the definitions and the common medical terminology of the 17 areas of medical specialization. 4. As indicated by the wide geographic distribution of the training schools of the physicians participating in the study, it may be concluded that the medical terminology in this study is representative of the terminology utilized by physicians in many parts of the United States and the world. 5. The findings of this study appear to be a reliable basis for the writing and revising of classroom materials and textbooks for the educational preparation of the medical secretary and medical assistants.
Thesis (Ed.D.)--Boston University
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