Please Read Carefully: scary femail wearing a surgical hat and mask.
Patients who have had surgery need information that is clear, honest but not frightening.

Aftercare instructions following a skin biopsy

Jane Lamprill is a freelance medical writer and owner of Please Read CarefullyTM. As a writing  example, Jane re-wrote a draft alternative version of the wound care instructions below, as part of her Plain English Diploma. Other examples are available.

The lump:  Jane once needed a  lump removing from her leg, in case it was cancer. The small operation went well. Unfortunately, the aftercare information was poor quality and confusing. For example, a member of the public might not understand:


Important considerations when writing for patients

Target readership: The hospital serves a wide range of people from different ethnic backgrounds, whose first language may not be English. Medical information needs to be safe, accurate, clear, readable and easily understood.

Patient-centred information: Because patients are often anxious about biopsy results and scarring, these issues were addressed first, along with important safety information.  Readers can then focus on the instructions when they are less stressed. It also helps if the document doesn’t look a mess!

User testing: Before publication, it’s a good idea to test the aftercare instructions with a representative group of patients. Are they able to read, understand and find important information quickly?

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