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Non-Conformity in the Anatomical Description of the Duodenum and the Impact on Clinical Communication


avatar Chelsea L. Wallace 1 , avatar Amber Neal 1 , * , avatar Jesse T. Martin 1 , avatar Ann B. Collins 1 , avatar William C. Hamrick 1 , avatar Paul A. Brisson 1

1 Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine, Auburn Campus, 910 South Donahue

How to Cite: Wallace C L, Neal A , Martin J T, Collins A B, Hamrick W C, et al. Non-Conformity in the Anatomical Description of the Duodenum and the Impact on Clinical Communication. J Med Edu. 2018;17(1):e105607.
doi: 10.22037/jme.v17i1.19178.


Journal of Medical Education: 17 (1); e105607
Published Online: June 03, 2018
Article Type: Brief Report
Received: November 17, 2017
Accepted: February 21, 2018


Background: Communication errors are frequently identified sources of sentinel events and improving clinician communication is now a focus of patient safety organizations. 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 preceptorsduring third and fourth clinical years. While transitioning from medical school to a clinical setting, student doctors must relearn some clinical anatomical terms .The lack of uniformity in clinical terminology could lead to a miscommunication in the health care field and become detrimental topatient outcomes. Our goal is to determine and implement a universal standardized terminology for the duodenum.Methods: We used 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.Conclusion: Student doctors and teaching clinicians would benefit fromthe 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 ofTrauma duodenum nomenclature system, which divides the duodenum into four parts utilizing easily identifiable landmarks.


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