Uniform clinical terms get go-ahead
The Department of Health (DoH) has approved a uniform system of medical terminology, SNOMED Clinical Terms (CT), for use across all healthcare settings and organisations.
Ministers say the adoption of a comprehensive, multilingual clinical terminology will help ensure that information is exchanged accurately and safely throughout the NHS.
"A common clinical language means nurses and doctors in all care settings can deliver a more effective and safer healthcare system," said health minister Simon Burns. "The adoption of SNOMED CT is an important milestone and will mean clearer and consistent communication between hospitals and GPs."
SNOMED CT provides electronic codes to identify unique clinical concepts, such as myocardial infarction, which are displayed within the patient record. It is already used within the NHS and is managed by the UK Terminology Centre.
The new announcement means that SNOMED CT has been approved as a "fundamental standard" and should be used by all NHS organisations, independent providers and information system suppliers.
"The terms are easy for clinicians to use and can be understood by patients and their families," commented Dr Charles Gutteridge, National Clinical Director for Informatics at the DoH.
"This approval will ensure a standard way of transmitting information about patients and I hope that all clinicians will accelerate the use of this terminology for the benefit of the patients we care for."
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By Joanna Lyford