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September 1, 1978

Solving Nomenclature Problems in Cardiology

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Medicine, State University of New York, Buffalo.

JAMA. 1978;240(9):868-871. doi:10.1001/jama.1978.03290090062025

MUCH OF our medical nomenclature originates from physicians and physiologists whose talents were more in brilliant research than in communication. Some terms are based on inaccurate and outdated observations. We often have choices between several terms, and the ideal terminology may emerge from a set of rules for logical and clear thinking.

When there is a choice between terms, we should probably choose the one with the following characteristics:

  1. The term should be the one with the least ambiguity and should require the least possible explanation of what one really means; therefore, it would be the easiest to remember.

  2. It should be the one with the shortest possible name and should be the easiest to spell.

  3. If the term is commonly reduced to the initials of each word, the letters should not be similar to other abbreviations in cardiology.

  4. If a patient overhears the term or