This is a question that we often get in all our communications channels.
When it comes to health, medical professionals and researchers are careful with their words, and one word that is often used is “may.” You might have heard a doctor say, “You may experience some pain after this procedure,” or “This medication may cause drowsiness.” But have you ever wondered why medical professionals use the word “may” in health contexts?
There are several reasons why medical professionals use the word “may.”
First and foremost, medicine is not an exact science, and there is always some degree of uncertainty. No two patients are the same, and their bodies may react differently to the same treatment or medication.
By using the word “may,” medical professionals acknowledge this uncertainty and leave room for variability in patients’ responses.
Secondly, using the word “may” allows medical professionals to communicate potential risks without causing undue alarm. For example, a doctor might say, “This medication may cause some side effects,” rather than saying, “This medication will cause side effects.” This way, the patient is aware of the potential risks but is not unnecessarily worried about them.
Additionally, using the word “may” can protect medical and associated professionals from legal liabilities. By using “may,” medical professionals are not making definitive statements or promises about treatment outcomes. This protects them from lawsuits if a patient experiences unexpected complications or adverse effects.
Finally, using the word “may” is also a way for medical professionals to communicate their own uncertainty or lack of knowledge. For example, a doctor might say, “We may need to run some more tests to determine the cause of your symptoms,” indicating that they are not entirely sure what is causing the patient’s issues.
In conclusion, the use of the word “may” in health contexts is not arbitrary but serves multiple purposes. It acknowledges the uncertainty and variability of medicine, communicates potential risks without causing alarm, protects medical professionals from legal liabilities, and allows them to communicate their own uncertainty or lack of knowledge. So, the next time you hear a medical professional use the word “may,” remember that it is not a lack of confidence but rather a carefully chosen word that serves multiple functions.