Watch out for spoken biomedical jargon

Biomedical terms can pose a special hazard because some are used incorrectly so often in speech that the misleading ring of familiarity can lend them false authenticity. Some examples follow.

biopsy - This is not a verb. (The mass was not "biopsied," but a biopsy of the mass was performed.) Observations are made on a biopsy specimen, not on the biopsy itself. die of, die from - Persons and animals die of, not from specific diseases. euthanatized, euthanized -Which of these words, if either one, should be used is a debated but unresolved matter; neither term even appears in some unabridged dictionaries. Use humanely killed, if possible. Avoid the term sacrificed, which has witch-doctor overtones. parameter - Reserve this word for its specific statistical meaning of a potential variable to which a particular value can be assigned to determine the value of other variables. Do not use parameter to mean measurement, value, indicator, or number.

significant(ly) - Use only when statistical significance is meant, and include a probability (P) value. For other uses, change to important, substantial, meaningful, or notable.

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