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Non-conformity in the anatomical description of the duodenum and the impact on clinical communication

Authors:CL Wallace; AN Neal; JT Martin; AB Collins; WC Hamrick; PA Brisson
Int J Biol Med Res. 2018; 9(1): 6245-6248  |  PDF File


Communication errors are frequently identified sources of sentinel events and improving clinician communication is now a focus of patient safety organizations [1]. Medical schools also have an opportunity and interest in improving clinical communication. One area for potential improvement is the miscommunication that can stem from lack of conformity in terminology student doctors learn from academic anatomists and terminology used by practicing physicians who serve as preceptors during third and fourth clinical years. While transitioning from medical school to a clinical setting, student doctors must relearn some clinical anatomical terms [2]. The lack of uniformity in clinical terminology could lead to a miscommunication in the health care field and become detrimental to patient outcomes. Our goal is to determine and implement a universal standardized terminology for the duodenum. Methods Table 1 contains nineteen references from six surgical, seven radiological, and six anatomical texts. We compared the resources’ terminology in describing the parts of the duodenum for similarities and differences. Results The medical resources used five different anatomical descriptions of the duodenum among the three categories of anatomical texts. Additionally, individual sources within the same discipline of each category used different descriptions of the duodenum. Conclusions Student doctors and teaching clinicians would benefit from the use of easily identifiable landmarks instead of vague, conflicting anatomical terms for the duodenum to help solve communication errors. We recommend adoption of the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma duodenum nomenclature system, which divides the duodenum into four parts utilizing easily identifiable landmarks.