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March 6, 1981

Unremarkable Study

JAMA. 1981;245(9):923. doi:10.1001/jama.1981.03310340015017

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To the Editor.—  The Journal published a letter by Jean S. Felton, MD (1980;244:1674), entitled "Misunderstanding From Diction" cautioning on the use of "negative" and "positive" in reporting radiological studies because of possible medicolegal confusion in court. From my nuclear medicine experience, I wholeheartedly agree with Felton, but the suggestion of using "normal" and "abnormal" does not appear entirely satisfactory to me for describing qualitative phenomena.For laboratory test results, when a numerical value is well defined as a mean, we can accept values within two (or whatever arbitrary limit is decided) SDs at each side of the mean as normal and values outside as abnormal. For qualitative reports I find most appropriate the term "unremarkable" to signify the understanding of "not demonstrating or proving the presence or existence of symptoms, bacteria, etc." If, on the other hand, there are findings, such observations should be briefly but fully explained.