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January 25, 1965

Standard Medical Terminology

JAMA. 1965;191(4):311-313. doi:10.1001/jama.1965.03080040053015

The language of medicine is essential for the furtherance of scientific knowledge and the exchange of clinical data. Indeed, the linking together of the laboratory and practice through effective communication permits the educator, investigator and physician to follow the developments of practice, the physical sciences, technology, and the special systems of action. However, there is a basic problem: the pipelines are choked with obsolescence, complexities, and conflicts of terminology, as the perimeters of research and clinical investigation expand at a breathless rate.1 The problems must be resolved; otherwise, practice and the basic sciences will become stagnant and detached, recalling a passage paraphrased from Matthew: "Let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth."

The history of medical terminology is the history of scholastic-humoralistic medicine, colored with hearsay and superstition, tangled and distorted in whimsical narrative. Successively, the frustrations recall the confusion of tongues in ancient Babylonia: "Therefore